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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