The family of a Nichols woman killed in a 2009 vehicle crash and relatives of the woman who caused her death and was sentenced to 12 years in prison for driving under the influence, exchanged expressions of forgiveness and hugs Tuesday morning at the Horry County Justice Center in Conway.
Kimberly Kelley Hilburn, 41, pleaded guilty to felony DUI resulting in death Tuesday and Circuit Court Judge Larry Hyman gave her a 12-years sentence.
The charge stemmed from the Aug. 1, 2009, crash in which Glendora Faye George, 60, of Nichols was killed when Hilburn’s 1995 Chevrolet pickup truck crossed the center line in the Finklea community and struck George’s 1998 Ford sport utility vehicle.
George was driving south on S.C. 917 north of Loris when Hilburn’s vehicle struck her vehicle head-on at 9:37 p.m. that day, police said.
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Five other people in George’s vehicle were taken to area hospitals. Hilburn was also injured and was flown to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, she later went to her mother’s home in Winter Haven, Fla., for rehabilitation.
George, who was wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene from multiple blunt-force traumas.
Lauree Richardson, an assistant 15th Circuit Solicitor, said a witness had called 911 to report Hilburn’s vehicle was driving erratically before the crash. She also described Hilburn’s previous criminal record that included convictions for breach of trust, shoplifting and forgeries.
George’s sister, Prisella Lee, was in the front seat of the SUV and said Tuesday that her sister tried to avoid the crash, but it happened so quickly they couldn’t get out of the way.“I don’t hate y’all. I don’t have any unforgiveness in my heart because God is the judge,” Lee said. “What is done is done. The damage has been done. We can’t bring her back, nobody can.”
Hilburn’s attorney, Tom Floyd, said she was accidentally shot in the stomach by a shotgun in 2000 and suffered debilitating injuries that caused her to be addicted to prescription pain pills.
“If she hadn’t gotten injured in 2000, she wouldn’t have gotten on these drugs . . . and maybe we wouldn’t be here today,” Floyd said Tuesday. Hilburn was rehabilitated in Florida after the crash and able to stop taking the prescription pain pills, he said.
Hilburn and her mother, Catherine Quinn, each apologized to George’s family Tuesday during the hearing for the pain they had caused the family.
“There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of the things that I did that caused you pain. I am so, so sorry. I can’t hardly live with myself for what I’ve done,” said Hilburn, who wore a blue jail jumpsuit and shackles on her feet and hands, to George’s family.
Quinn echoed her daughter’s comments and also turned to George’s family and asked for forgiveness for her daughter.
“I couldn’t get help for her. She tried, we tried to help her [get off the painkillers],” Quinn said. “We are so, so sorry. If I could take Mrs. George’s place in order to save my daughter right now I would.”
Richardson said when Hilburn was taken to the hospital and blood drawn following the crash, officials found numerous prescription pain pills in her system as well as cocaine. No alcohol was found in Hilburn’s system.