According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 79-year-old Doreen Landstra accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake
Bradenton, Florida - A Manatee County woman's license was suspended for one year, following a deadly accident that killed three people and injured four others.
The accident happened back on February 2 outside the Sugar Creek Country Club, in a 55+ community. It's where residents held church services.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, 79-year-old Doreen Landstra accidentally stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake and backed her SUV into a church group. The car came to a stop in a lake adjacent to the clubhouse. Landstra was not injured.
Among the dead was 70-year-old Wilhelmina Paul.
"I had just walked away and heard the crash and the screams. I ran back, I did not realize my wife was on the ground," says Wilhelmina's widower, John Paul.
Paul says he and his wife had recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. On Wednesday he showed up at the courthouse with this message for Landstra: "I have no anger against Doreen. I forgive her, for it was an accident. She didn't mean to do it."
Using a walker and assisted by her son, Landstra stepped before a Manatee County judge in traffic court for "improperly backing up" on Wednesday. Her attorney entered a "no contest" plea.
The judge suspended Landstra's license for a year. She'll also have to pay a $1,000 fine, plus court costs.
The judge told Landstra she can reapply for her license in a year but she'll have to take a driving course and the written test.
Some at the Sugar Creek Country Club question if Landstra should ever drive again.
"She's a danger to the community," says resident Sharon Hayes.
Paul is also upset with the judge's ruling. "She should have had her license removed immediately. She should have stopped driving years ago, that's the reason for the tragedy."
Landstra would not comment on camera, and her attorney tells the judge there is civil litigation pending. Landstra's son tells 10 News their hearts and thoughts are with the victims' families.