A Myrtle Beach woman who killed a 24-year-old St. Helena Island native while speeding the wrong way down U.S. 21 in northern Beaufort County has been sent to prison.
Mary Ann German, 47, was convicted Thursday, Nov. 15, of felony driving under the influence resulting in death. After the accident, German’s blood-alcohol level was measured at .275, nearly 3 1⁄2 times the legal limit to operate a motor vehicle.
German was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Sher’mann Keel Palmer was killed in the wreck, which occurred moments after German struck another car in a nightclub parking lot, then sped away despite witnesses’ pleas for her to wait for law enforcement to arrive.
“This tragedy could have been so easily avoided if Mary Ann German had exercised even a modicum of respect for the law, common sense or regard for other people,” said Dustin Whetsel of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, who prosecuted the case. “Instead, she was grossly intoxicated and grossly belligerent. Her utter disregard cost Sher’mann Palmer his life.”
At about 12:30 a.m. on July 10, 2016, German drove a red Dodge pickup into a parked car outside the club on Trask Parkway while trying to get out of the crowded lot. The car’s owner and a friend with her that evening tried to convince German not to leave the scene. Instead, German drove out of the parking lot, ran through a stop sign and accelerated into the northbound lanes of U.S. 21. The owner of the vehicle German struck in the parking lot was on the phone with a 911 operator when German collided head-on with Palmer’s 2014 Nissan Sentra.
Palmer, a St. Helena Island native who was living in Columbia, was alive when first-responders arrived a few minutes later. However, he suffered severe injuries and died before he could be extracted from his vehicle. Palmer, a musician, had just finished an engagement near his hometown and was making a late-night return to Columbia, where he would attend church the next morning.
German was pulled from the pickup’s driver seat. Her husband was in the passenger’s seat. Neither suffered serious injuries.
However, German was taken to Beaufort Memorial Hospital, where the attending physician struggled to calm the belligerent woman.
German’s criminal record includes convictions from Maryland of battery in 1995, disorderly conduct in 2014, and intoxication in 2014.
During sentencing, an attorney for Palmer’s parents said they forgive German and asked the judge to show mercy. Circuit Court Judge Brooks P. Goldsmith delivered the sentence.
Whetsel is a member of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office community prosecution team. He has been with the prosecutor’s office since 2015. Assistant Solicitor Leigh Staggs assisted with the prosecution.