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Man dies after being run over by WWII tank on Jelly Belly chairman's property

The husband of Jelly Belly’s chief executive accidentally crushed a man to death with a World War II-era tank during a reunion on the family’s property in Fairfield, Calif., authorities said.

The accident occurred about 2:25 p.m. Saturday afternoon on the property of fourth-generation candy maker Herman Rowland Sr. during a family reunion, authorities said. Rowland is a collector of the military vehicles, which he stores in a restoration facility known as “The Tank Barn,” the Daily Republic reported.

Rowland’s daughter, Lisa Rowland Brasher, was named chief executive in March and reports to her father, who is now the company’s chairman. It was her husband, Dwayne Brasher, 62, of Vacaville, who was driving the 1944 M5 tank, authorities said.

The California Highway Patrol said the victim was Kevin Wright, 54, of Suisun City, Calif.

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“Our family is grieving over this tragic loss,” Herman Rowland said in a statement. “The gentleman involved in this accident was a passionate person, always ready to lend a hand and we shared the same deep-rooted love of history. To have him die so tragically during our family reunion is impossible to comprehend. We are all still in a state of shock.”

Authorities said Brasher was driving the military tank through an open field on the property on Abernathy Road. Wright was a passenger and was sitting on the front edge of the tank, facing inward.

But as the tank traveled down a dirt hill, Wright lost his balance, fell backwards and landed directly in front of the tank.

Drugs and alcohol do not appear to have been a factor in the accident, a CHP official said.

Rowland said that once his family realized “the magnitude of what had happened,” they immediately notified authorities. His family is cooperating with the investigation, he said.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to his family,” Rowland said. “We will do everything in our power to help them get through this enormous loss…. Many of my family members have been inconsolable since the accident. There are no words to describe the grief we are experiencing.”

The Rowland family is seeking intensive counseling for anyone who saw the deadly accident.

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