Pastor's family says they forgive driver charged in fatal crash

By Jody Barr - bio | email

RICHLAND COUNTY, SC (WIS) - The 20-year-old charged in a car crash that killed a local pastor faced a judge Friday morning. She also faced the family of the man who was killed in Wednesday's crash.

Reames said she took responsibility for the accident, and the pastor's family said they've forgiven her.

Columbia Police went back to the intersection of Whaley and Assembly Street Friday morning to reconstruct a drunk driving crash that killed a Lexington pastor. At the same time, the woman police said caused it all was inside a Columbia courtroom to face the charge. "Because this young person made a poor, poor decision and drank and drove, which she did," said Defense Attorney Pete Strom, "This is not about fighting in a case. She's made a mistake."

Mary McAlister Reames stood by her attorney Friday as she faced Pastor Billy Dean Randall's family for the first time. The family, through a spokesman, told Reames they don't hold what happened against her. "We cannot even speak to how great a loss that Pastor Randall's life was and how deeply we're hurting from it," said the spokesperson, "Though we want to offer forgiveness and let her know she's forgiven, that she does not have to live with the fact that a church, the people, the family is holding any type of hatred or bitterness."

"She is forgiven," said the spokesperson, "There's no hard feelings, and we want her to know that."

Police said four witnesses saw Reames' Ford Escape hop the curb and drive on the sidewalk for about a half a block before she hit a car and then slammed into a second car. Inside that second car was Pastor Randall who police said died on impact.

Randall spent 35 years in the pulpit, but it all ended Wednesday. Even though the pastor's family has forgiven Reames, they still want justice in this case. "It's not merely just an accident," said the spokesperson, "It was a conscious decision, not the death, but to put yourself in the state that caused the death."

Reames' family put up $10,000 of the $100,000 Friday evening, and Reames is free on bond.

She is a criminal justice major at USC and had a 3.6 grade point average.

If convicted, she could spend the next 25 years in prison.

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