Woman facing charges after intentional wreck
Baby ejected from vehicle after vehicle crashes at 92 miles per hour
A Kimberling City woman is being held in the Barry County jail on three felonies and two misdemeanors after allegedly crashing her vehicle on purpose, with her three-month-old baby in the car.
Rebecca Dempsey, 30, of Kimberling City, is facing felony charges of first-degree assault, endangering the welfare of a child and abuse or neglect of a child, as well as misdemeanor charges of careless and imprudent driving, and failure to drive on the right half of the roadway resulting in an accident.
According to a probable cause statement filed by Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper T. Coffey, the wreck occurred on Feb. 20 on Highway 112, about five miles east of Seligman.
"Upon my arrival to the scene, I noticed a vehicle had traveled off the right side of the roadway, struck a tree, and overturned back into the roadway," he wrote in the statement.
The infant was in the care of the responding firefighters, and Coffey went to speak to Dempsey, who was being treated by a first responder.
"I asked Rebecca what happened, which she stated she lost her mind," he said.
After determining she was not impaired in any way, Coffey interviewed Dempsey, who said she was going home to Kimberling City.
"I asked her about the crash," he said. "Rebecca stated, 'I wanted to die and I was aggravated I didn't die.' I asked Rebecca if she intentionally crashed the car, which she stated she did. Due to the lack of empathy for the three-month-old child and her selfish acts of driving off the road to attempt suicide and attempting to kill [the infant], I stepped away from Rebecca and began to investigate the crash further."
Coffey said witnesses who came up on the crash said Dempsey and the infant were on the side of the road when they arrived, and the infant was lying on the ground in pajamas, screaming and bleeding. The witnesses wrapped the baby in a coat, stating Dempsey did not want anything to do with the baby.
"A closer look at the crashed vehicle's speedometer showed the vehicle's speed to be 92 miles per hour," Coffey said in the statement. "The needle on the speedometer gauge was stuck at 92 miles per hour, indicating the vehicle was traveling 92 miles per hour in a posted 55 mile per hour zone, at the time of impact."
Dempsey said both her and the infant were wearing seat belts, and Coffey said when he asked about the infant being ejected, Dempsey said she picked the baby up off the road prior to anyone arriving on scene.
Coffey said two Barry County deputies reported to him Dempsey had said she wanted to kill herself and the baby.
"Rebecca never seemed remorseful or cared about the seriousness of the case," Coffey wrote. "I explained to Rebecca I was going to contact the Children's Division and she might not be able to have any further contact with her baby ever again. Rebecca appeared careless about the information I told her. Rebecca's response was, 'OK.'"
After being transported to Mercy Hospital in Rogers, Ark., Coffey said doctors concluded the infant has two lateral skull fractures, and the child was transported by helicopter to Mercy Hospital in Springfield. Dempsey, who was treated at the Rogers, Ark., hospital, was then placed on a 96-hour psychiatric hold at a facility in Joplin.
On Feb. 22, Coffey said he made contact with Dempsey's father, who said Dempsey told him she wanted to kill herself and the baby. He told Coffey his daughter had some mental problems. He said she had never attempted suicide before, but she never wanted the child.
"According to [the father], Rebecca was raped and became pregnant with the child," Coffey said in the statement. "In order for Rebecca to continue living at her mother's house, she would have to keep the baby and not have an abortion. Rebecca decided to keep the baby in exchange for a place to live."
Coffey said Dempsey's father was concerned for the safety of the baby, wanted to know how the infant was and wanted to make sure Dempsey did not have access to the child. Coffey said the Children's Division caseworker indicated the infant would be placed in alternative care.
Dempsey is being held in the Barry County jail on $75,000 bond. She has a disposition hearing scheduled in the courtroom of Judge Robert Foulke at 8:30 a.m. March 17.