The Herald Bulletin

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Local News

November 28, 2012

Mother: Daughter killed in crash was determined to live normal life

ANDERSON, Ind. — Whitney Foote was a happy woman, always smiling, quick-witted and described by her mother, Kim Collins, as “spunky.”

Foote never walked a day of her life, which ended Tuesday in a traffic accident just two weeks before her 27th birthday, but Collins said she didn’t need legs to touch people she met.

“She never asked, ‘Why me?’” Collins said. “She never complained about being in a wheelchair. She had her life together and did everything an able-bodied person could do.”

Foote was born with muscular dystrophy, leaving her without the use of her legs. It didn’t keep her from driving using a specially designed van with controls that allowed her to drive with her hands.

That’s what Foote was doing Tuesday on Indiana 32 near Lapel when her Dodge Grand Caravan smashed into the rear of a Honda Ridgeline truck. The van careened and crashed into a cement culvert. She was transported to Community Hospital and pronounced dead on arrival, suffering blunt force trauma to the stomach and chest, said Madison County Sheriff Ron Richardson.

Collins said she wanted to make clear that Foote’s disability didn’t hinder her ability to drive, and that she was an expert at operating the vehicle.

“She was a really good driver,” Collins said. “She had to learn how to drive and be safe like everyone else.”

It was unclear whether Foote was wearing her safety belt, deputy coroner Junior Allen said, but the vehicle’s airbags did deploy. Foote slid forward in her seat, causing the blunt force trauma, Allen said.

Foote was heading to Noblesville with her cousin, Danielle Barker, 25, to do some Christmas and birthday shopping, Collins said.

Barker was transported from the crash scene to Community Hospital and was treated for minor injuries, the sheriff said. The driver of the truck, Robert Prather, 53 of Anderson, was also transported to Community Hospital and treated for minor injuries.

Like most girls, shopping was a favorite pastime for Foote, Collins said. Her husband, Daniel Foote, celebrates his birthday Sunday.

“She loved to shop,” Collins said. “Their birthdays are close together and she was getting some presents.”

Foote was someone determined to live a normal life despite her disability, Collins said. She graduated from Ball State University and was nominated to the homecoming court her senior year. She was married to her husband for more than two years and helped run his eBay business.

Foote was unable to have children of her own, so she and her husband were in the process of adopting a child from the Congo. The paperwork was in the final stages.

“The Congo is a war-torn country where many babies don’t have any parents,” Collins said. “They’re in desperate need of homes, and that’s what she and Daniel wanted to provide.”

Find Jack Molitor on Facebook and @J4keSteel on Twitter, or call 640-4883.

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