Mars company co-owner was driver in fatal Loudoun County accident, officials confirm

Jacqueline Badger Mars, who has been ranked as one of the world’s richest people, was driving the SUV that was involved in a fatal two-vehicle crash in Loudoun County on Friday, the county sheriff’s office confirmed.

Mars, with a net worth estimated in the billions, is an owner of Mars Inc., the McLean-based candy, food and beverage firm, which has had annual sales of more than $30 billion. She is a resident of The Plains and has received awards for philanthrophy. She will be 74 on Thursday.

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The crash occurred about 2:30 p.m. on Route 50 near Briar Patch Lane in the Aldie area, the sheriff’s office said. Mars was driving a 2004 Porsche SUV that was traveling west when, “for unknown reasons,” it crossed the center line and struck an eastbound 2013 Chrysler minivan, the sheriff’s office said.

A back-seat passenger in the minivan, Irene C. Ellisor, 86, of Huntsville Tex., died at the scene. She was not wearing a seat belt. Others in the minivan were injured. They were in Virginia for a family wedding.

In a report issued Monday, the sheriff’s office said the SUV driver was taken to Stone Springs Medical Center and later to Inova Fairfax Hospital.

The sheriff’s office said the matter was “pending review by the Office of Commonwealth’s Attorney.”

The involvement of Mars was first reported by Leesburg Today and was confirmed Tuesday by the sheriff’s office.

In a statement Tuesday, a spokesman for Mars said she was “involved in a two vehicle accident” in Loudoun and was recuperating at home after being hospitalized for her injuries.

“This tragedy has left Jacquie filled with sorrow for the loss of life and those who were injured,” spokesman Kent Jarrell said in the statement. “She would like to express her deepest condolences to the families involved.’’

Jarrell said Mars is a member of the board of directors of Mars Inc. But he said the crash was “a private family matter, [and] not a company matter.”

Forbes Magazine placed Mars as the seventh richest woman in the world. She is the daughter of one of the company’s patriarchs, Forrest Mars Sr., who is credited with inventing one of the company’s signature products, M&Ms.

Last year, she was given the first Foundation for the National Archives Heritage Award. In its bulletin, the Society for the National Archives said she was a businesswoman, philanthropist and advocate for women’s education who also supported other arts and cultural institutions in Washington.

The fall 2012 bulletin said she joined Mars Inc. in 1982 and had been Food Product Group president. It said she continued to serve as an adviser.

 
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