Jacqueline Mars, a co-founder of the candy empire with the same last name, is behind bars thicker than a snicker tonight after causing a car crash Thursday that killed a passenger in a taxi who ate his Milky Way seatbelt.
During a news conference at Falls Church Hospital, sitting in a leather green luxury wheelchair, the cab driver, 46-year-old Mozzie Caffrey, recounts the conversation he had with Neal Winters, the 29-year-old victim, before Mars crash landing.
“We arrive at his destination. I turn around, and as I was telling him how much his fare was, I pause on the third digit realizing the numbers on his shirt was exactly the same. I thought I was reading a script. After the fourth digit was a minus sign. Then 2016. I asked him what year was he born. He smiles, and you gotta understand this guy had on beer goggles and ear duffs, so, I don’t know how I looked and sounded to him. He probably thought I was flirting. I yelled, ‘WHY AREN’T YOU WEARING YOUR SEATBELT?’ perceiving if he had his seatbelt on the strap would’ve covered the 2016. Then it hit me what he said before he got in and was leaning into the passenger window of my taxi like some hooker. ‘WhyIs$2.75AlreadyOnTheMeter?’ He was drunk and slurring his speech. If I wrote this it would look like a hashtag. Then I guess he noticed the Milky Way seatbelts and said, “OhItsForTheCandy?HowYouKnowIGotASweetTooth?’ He had caramel stuck in his teeth! I yelled for him to get out. Soon as he opened the door Mars attacked. Next thing I know I wake up to a fat guy in a little coat. Sorry, Dr. Skittles, but you work in the health field man, you gotta get it together.”
Mars was driving alone in her 2020 Porsche SUV when “for unknown reasons the vehicle crossed the center line and struck a stationary yellow cab occupied by two people,” according to the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office.
Winters died at the scene. Authorities say he was not wearing a seatbelt, which played a major factor in how Caffrey survived a 4,927 pound SUV coming 90 MPH at an immobile 2,729 pound car.
The commonwealth’s attorney office reviewed the matter and found Mars at fault.
In October 2013 Mars was involved in a similar car crash near her home that killed two occupants of a minivan: 86-year old Irene Ellisor and an unborn child. Mars plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of reckless driving, was fined $2,500 and had her driver license suspended 6 months. She didn’t receive any jail time largely because of how forgiving the families of the victims were. However, the tragedy was a major component for driver license-renewal rules for seniors in Virginia. A law that took effect on January 1, 2015 lowering the age for mandatory in-person license renewal from 80 to 75, meaning Virginia drivers aged 75 and older were no longer eligible to renew their driver license electronically or by mail. Mars was 73 at the time of the crash (October 4, 2013) with her 74th birthday 6 days away (October 10, 2013).
Winters was unknowingly taking part in a moving demonstration of a Milky Way bar’s stretchy caramel. BBDO, the advertising agency that came up with the creative campaign, did not have Mars INC. permission to manipulate their products in such a way. According to Kent Jarrell, a personal spokesman for Jacquie, “They never told us about this. We never had a chance to yes it or no it. Imagine if we no’ed it. That would have been a life saver for us. And if we yes’ed it we would be talking about another topic than death cause we would have educated drivers. Was Mr. Caffrey advised by BBDO to instruct his passengers to not eat their seatbelts? I guess not!”
Mars’s attorney, Robin Gulick, told reporters there was no evidence of intentional speeding, texting, or distracted driving by his client. There was no sign of alcohol or drug usage, according to the accident report. “I’m confident all criminal charges will be dropped once this is revealed to be just another accident. We are providing assistance to Mr. Caffrey as well as to the family of Mr. Winters in this great time of sorrow,” said Gulick.
Mars told investigators “I fell asleep” while driving, according to the report.
- Jacqueline Mars, candy firm co-owner, was driver in fatal wreck: police say (CNN)
- Billionaire Jacqueline Mars Pleads Guilty in Fatal Car Crash (Bloomberg)
- Milky Way Seatbelt | Ads of the World