Diane Lynn Hunter said hitting a golf cart with her car, killing a 65-year-old woman, will haunt her the rest of her life.
She read a letter in court moments before a Horry County Circuit Court judge sentenced her to one year in prison and three years of probation for reckless homicide Wednesday.
Hunter pleaded guilty to reckless homicide during a hearing in August.
“This will haunt me for the rest of my life,” Hunter said. “I am truly sorry for the pain I have caused you all. I wish there was the right words to make you all feel better.”
Judge Steven John suspended a five-year sentence for the shorter prison term.
Assistant Solicitor Joshua Holford said Hunter was driving a Toyota Camry in July 2017 near 16th Avenue South in North Myrtle Beach. She sped, swerved around a van, clipped several trash cans and then crashed into a golf cart. Holford said Hunter was not under the influence during the crash.
“The speed and reckless driving was the cause of this wreck,” he said.
Defense attorney Sharde Crawford said Hunter worked long hours in the months leading up to the crash.
“It’s clear that Ms. Hunter was just an overworked employee,” Crawford said. “And she may have fallen asleep at the wheel.”
Katherine Snipes was one of the people in the golf cart and died from her injuries.
Snipes’ husband, John, spoke before the ruling, saying he and his wife had been married for 46 years. They had children and grandchildren together after marrying at 19 years old.
“Kathy was the hub of our family,” he said.
Katherine was a world-class cook, he said. Snipes said his wife had been 10 years cancer free and had lived through a knee replacement.
“At the time of the accident, she was probably the healthiest of her life,” he said.
John said he suffered eight broken ribs, a fractured sternum and chipped teeth in the crash.
Several of Hunter’s family members and friends spoke before she was sentenced, including her son and daughter, and expressed sympathy to the family who lost a loved one.
“My mother is what holds our family together,” her daughter said. “We just ask for mercy in the court.”
Snipes’ family filed a wrongful death lawsuit earlier this year against Hunter, Five Star Dining Inc., which does business as Scoop Ice Cream, and Nathan’s South Carolina Inc., which operates Nathan’s Famous Hot Dogs.
According to the suit, Hunter drove the Toyota Camry that hit the golf cart. Five Star owned the car and Hunter was on a work trip for Nathan’s, her employer, the suit states.