by Jack Morse

A bizarre tragedy involving the makers of everyone's favorite buttered-popcorn simulacrum candy occurred this past Saturday. During a retreat at the private Fairfield estate of Jelly Belly chairman Herman Rowland, the husband of Jelly Belly CEO Lisa Rowland Brasher, Dwayne Brasher, accidentally drove a World War II tank over a man, crushing him in the process.

The California Highway Patrol has identified Kevin Wright, 54, of Suisun City, California as the deceased.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the 1944 M5 tank driven by Brasher is only one of many military vehicles on the property normally stored in a building known as the "tank barn." The Times continues:

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.

That the chairman of Jelly Belly stores a fleet of military vehicles 45 miles outside of San Francisco may come as a surprise to the many whose associations with the company trend toward bubble gum over big guns.

But Rowland has also been known as an avowed conservative who donated to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign, and who most recently spoke out against equal rights for trans students in California schools.

As the Daily Republic wrote in a piece from January of this year, Rowland's hobby of restoring old military vehicles comes out of a desire to show people the meaning of freedom, and war's role in America's past. "It gives us a chance to tell why we are free, that we are lucky to have what we have," he said.

Yay, freedom.