Young widow forgives officer accused in crash that killed husband
Rebecca Sperry became a new mother - and a widow - on the same day. Now she is healing at home with her newborn daughter, Autumn, as she mourns the loss of her husband, Jesse Sperry.
For the first time, Rebecca opened her home to WTHR to talk about the crash that killed her husband and forced her into the hospital for an emergency C-section. A widow and new first-time mother, all within hours, 22-year-old Rebecca Sperry has had more than her fair share to handle.
Rebecca says her doctor told her everything was perfect with her pregnancy. But that perfect world was shattered when her husband Jesse died after off-duty Edgewood Police Officer James Foutch rear-ended the couple as they headed home from church earlier this month.
Rebecca was driving the car when she says she spotted Officer Foutch's vehicle approaching from behind. She told Jesse the vehicle would hit them - and it did. Moments later, she remembers reaching for her husband who was now lying on her chest. She described the moment when he took his last breath - "and that was it."
That's when Rebecca knew Jesse was gone and her baby was coming.
"I remember screaming out, 'oh, my gosh, my baby,' because I remember I started having contractions," she said.
Rebecca says she remembers Foutch coming up to the car asking how he could help.
"He was heartbroken. He knew that I lost Jesse," she said.
That's the last time Rebecca saw the man who changed the course of her family's life forever. She wants him to know she forgives him.
"I know he's sorry and I just hope I have the chance to tell him about Christ. Tell him that there's a better way to handle his pain," she said.
Rebecca has pain, too. She still walks with a cane. There's the grief from missing Jesse.
"The hardest is at night when I go to sleep and not having his arms," she said. "I miss that when I'm hurting and when I'm crying myself to sleep. I miss having those comforting arms around me."
In between the tears of a new widow, though, are the joys of new motherhood.
"Jesse would be so proud of you, yes, he would," she cooed to Autumn. "Those are daddy's dimples. "
Rebecca is taking things one day at a time and sometimes, one step at a time, on the road to healing. She went out for a walk with baby Autumn and other family members Wednesday.
"Jesse would have been proud," said Rebecca.
Even without her husband, Rebecca's not alone on the journey. Her family is constantly at her side.
"Slow and steady wins the race," said Rebecca.
Sleeping inside the carriage is a living and breathing testament to the love she shared with her late husband: the couple's infant daughter Autumn.
"When she smiles, she's got his smile," she said. "You ask yourself at times, why did you spare me? I don't want to be here alone, but then you see your little girl, you know what Jesse wants."
Rebecca says she spoke about what Jesse would have wanted just days before he was killed.
"He was talking about if something happened to me, I hope you know that I wouldn't want you to remain grieving and not feel like you can't go on with your life," she recalled.
Now she is finding strength in her new daughter. When she looks at Autumn, Rebecca sees her husband.
"Sound asleep with your arm tucked up. Your daddy used to lay like that, yes, he did," she said to the baby.
In her mind's eye, Sperry sees Jesse holding his daughter.
"I can picture it, though, as clear as day day as if he did see her. Just that huge smile that he had and the way his eyes would light up at her and he would hold her for the first time," said Rebecca.
It's certainly not how she ever pictured her life. When Rebecca looks at her infant daughter, she knows what she needs to do.
"It gives you the strength to go on," she said. "It's not going to be easy, but you know, you're going to be all right."
Rebecca says doctors have told her the baby is healthy and the crash caused no lasting damage to Autumn, who Rebecca says was named for Jesse's favorite season of the year.
Sperry will be living at her parents' home for now. She still needs so much help with caring for baby Autumn.
When she marks the milestones in Autumn's life - all the Christmases and birthdays, Rebecca says, "They're always going to be bittersweet. But they're precious. She is alive and that's what we have to celebrate."