By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin
EDGEWOOD, Ind. —
Sitting in her mother’s lap, infant Autumn Marie Sperry’s cries echoed through a full church at Edgewood Baptist this afternoon.
The 10-day-old girl’s fussing seemed to coincide with the beginning of the funeral service for her father, Jesse Sperry, whose body rested just a few feet away. The inlay of Sperry’s casket featured a stitched design of animals and rifles, a nod to his love of hunting and the outdoors. Sperry’s father, Rick, said it’s exactly what his son would have wanted.
The 23-year-old man was killed in a violent traffic accident on April 6. That afternoon, a 1996 Buick Century driven by his pregnant wife, 22-year-old Rebecca Sperry, was rear-ended by a GMC Yukon in the 7500 block of West Indiana 32. Police believe the SUV, driven by 41-year-old James D. Foutch, was traveling about 92 mph when it struck the car, forcing it off the road and into a utility pole. The impact disintegrated the car and claimed Sperry’s life. It’s believed the expecting father reached out to guard his wife and unborn child just before the accident occurred.
Sperry’s entire family gathered in the church to spend some final moments with the young man, who was working two jobs to provide for his family at the time of his death. The man’s mother, Janelle Cox, sat surrounded by family in front of the pall. Cox had called her son her hero.
“I don’t have all of the answers,” said Pastor Andy Lutz to Rebecca Sperry, who sat in a wheelchair with family at the front of the church. “But I do know God. I know Christ, and I hope you derive comfort from Him this afternoon.”
Lutz encouraged the family to seek guidance and strength in their faith during the difficult time. Rick Sperry and John Keefe, Rebecca’s father, said the service was beautiful. The family was just recently able to bring Autumn and Rebecca home from separate Indianapolis hospitals, where they had received treatment for injuries suffered in the accident. Rebecca was released Monday and has started a rehabilitation program that will eventually allow her to walk again. Mother and child were reunited Tuesday after Autumn, born hours after the accident, was released from Riley Hospital for Children.
Church member Chris McClure described Jesse Sperry as one of his best friends. Although he was almost twice Sperry’s age, McClure said the two shared similar interests, and he tried to act as a mentor to the young man.
“We both loved hunting. Both loved the outdoors. We were actually planning to do some hunting this year,” McClure said. “Obviously, the Lord had other plans.”
The Herald Bulletin will continue to update this story.