By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
INDIANAPOLIS — A baby girl born the same day a deadly accident claimed her father's life was released from the hospital Tuesday afternoon.
Autumn Marie Sperry, who was born the night of April 6, spent the past week at Riley Hospital for Children receiving specialized care. The infant's mother, Rebecca Sperry, was the driver of a 1996 Buick Century that was destroyed in the accident earlier that afternoon in the 7500 block of West Indiana 32 near Lapel. Twenty-three-year-old Jesse Sperry was killed in the accident, and his wife gave birth to Autumn by emergency C-section after being airlifted to an Indianapolis hospital.
The accident is believed to have been caused by 41-year-old Edgewood Police Department officer James D. Foutch. His 2004 GMC Yukon rear-ended the car, forcing it off the roadway and into a utility pole. Police reports indicate Foutch was high on hydrocodone and Xanax and was driving 92 mph in the sport utility vehicle. The 12-year veteran of the third shift faces felony charges of driving while intoxicated causing death.
Baby Autumn was finally released from Riley to the care of her grandparents, John and Lisa Keefe, on Tuesday afternoon, according to a report from The Herald Bulletin's news-gathering partner WISH-TV. The family announced on Monday that Rebecca had been released from St. Vincent Indianapolis and had started a rehabilitation program at a facility closer to the family's home in Noblesville.
Keefe said the recovery process for Rebecca is far from over. She is expected to walk again, but physical therapy could take from one to three weeks. Sperry suffered a broken arm, a torn uterus, a lacerated spleen and other internal injuries. Keefe said the family has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support they've received from the community, especially from the Sperrys' church, Edgewood Baptist. Church members have been keeping Rebecca company and helped paint the baby's room at the family's home. Almost $20,000 has been raised to help with the family's expenses, according to a youcaring.com donation website.
Janelle Cox, Jesse Sperry's mother, spoke out on Monday, calling her son a hero. Reports of the accident indicate the man reached out to guard his wife in anticipation of the impact. Hospital officials told the family that if the mother's injuries had been any worse, the baby likely would have perished.
The family has declined to comment about the possible pending litigation involving the accident. But Cox said her son was not a hateful or vengeful person, and that he would want the family to concentrate on forgiveness rather than revenge.
In an interview Tuesday, Jesse Sperry's father, Rick Sperry; stepmother, Ingrid Sperry, and sister, Felicia Sperry, said they weren't surprised to hear about their loved one's bravery.
"It sounds like something he would do," Felicia said. "He's the kind of person who would give his life to save yours."
Sperry's paternal side of the family lives in Phoenix, and last week made the long trip to be with the rest of the family and attend Jesse's funeral, which is Wednesday. Rick Sperry, who works in transportation, said his son grew up seeing the country, spending time in Idaho, Washington, Arizona and Indiana. He said his son loved fishing and being outdoors, had a joking and humorous nature and was very devoted to his faith.
"He was my sidekick. We were buddies. We used to have fishing competitions when he was younger," Rick said. "He was one of those quiet kids who didn't party and do a lot of things younger people do. But once he got to know you, here came the pranks."
Like the rest of the family, the Sperrys have been facing the duality of mourning the loss of Jesse while welcoming Autumn into the world. Rick said he was able to spend some time with his new granddaughter, and the girl has a lot of Jesse's facial characteristics.
"He's not gone," Felicia said. "He's right there beside them. Still protecting them."
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