In October 2016, Patricia Hale drunkenly drove through a red light smashing into another car and killing Samantha Herzig.
On Thursday, Herzig’s mother asked for forgiveness for her daughter’s killer.
“I’m devastated. My daughter was my life,” Sheila Barger told a packed Horry County courtroom. “I know my daughter would not want to take two daughters away from their mom.”
“Show her mercy.”
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As the courtroom cleared after the judge decided to show Hale that mercy, Barger hurried towards Hale and her family and gave them hugs. The killer and the victim shared a tearful embrace.
“I feel the remorse in her hugs, I feel the remorse with her daughter,” Barger told a judge.
Hale pleaded guilty to reckless homicide for killing Herzig and assault and battery first-degree for injuring two others in the car, including a 10-month-old boy. Judge Larry Hyman sentenced Hale – who has no criminal history and two adult children—to a suspended sentence as long as she continues to pay $180,000 in restitution. That is in addition to an insurance payment of $2 million to the victims.
If Hale doesn’t pay, she will head to prison for five years.
In October 2016, Hale was on a date – her first in a year since her husband of 29 years died – and consumed alcohol. She got behind the wheel and drove through a red light near Pine Island Drive and Highway 17 and collided with red sedan where Herzig was the passenger.
Barger said she and Hale would like to create a ministry – the killer and the victim –and go to local schools to talk about the dangers of drunk driving.
“This was an accident, she bent over backwards to do everything she can,” Barger said. “The way I see it, to take her away from her daughters is not going to bring my daughter back.”
Mikayla Chiappini-Helms drove the car where 22-year-old Herzig died. She escaped with only minor injuries though her 10-month-old son had a broken leg.
“Awful,” is how Ciappini-Helms described the last two years. “I woke up in the car and saw Samantha.”
Herzig was a good friend and was always there to talk, Ciappini-Helms said. Herzig wanted to be a nurse and was taking classes at Horry-Georgetown Technical College.
The killer also addressed the court as her attorney told of all the measures she undertook to pay the victims, which included Hale selling her home. Though Hyman noted that money won’t restore the victims.
Hale said she thanks God for Barger for being a forgiving person. She added everybody involved needed some closure.
“I wish every morning and every night I could take it back,” Hale said, “but that’s impossible.”