India Autry wants answers. And she wants those responsible for putting her 24-year-brother in an intensive care unit brought to justice.
Neither, the young girl said late this week, is coming as quickly as she would like.
Her brother, Sutton Autry, of 2175 Harrells Hwy., Garland, remains in critical but stable condition at a New Hanover County hospital where he is recovering from injuries sustained when he was struck by what India Autry believes was two different vehicles, one that severely hurt the young man.
Autry, who spoke exclusively to The Independent from New York where she is now an attorney and an aspiring actress, said her family believes Sutton Autry was hit by a vehicle as he was walking from his home on Harrells Highway to his parents’ house just down the road. He was left, she said, injured in the roadway.
A second vehicle, she said, came along sometime later, running over her brother, whose body was fully in one lane of travel. “The difference was the lady driving that vehicle realized she’d hit something in the road and stopped. She saw that it was somebody and she called 911. The other vehicle never stopped,” Autry explained.
Sutton Autry was transported to a New Hanover County hospital suffering from a broken pelvis, liver damage and head injuries.
“He had lost a whole lot of blood when they found him,” India Autry said. “He was in really bad shape.”
But doctors told the family that the 24-year-old would survive and, later that weekend, informed them that while he did have some brain injuries he had not suffered any permanent brain damage.
“That was a major relief to everyone,” his sister said. “We are comforted in knowing that he is going to be OK. It might be a long recovery, but the doctors feel certain he’s going to be just fine.”
On Friday, his sister said, he was still not talking but had become more responsive.
“We realize this will take time,” she stressed, “but he’s making progress and we are very, very thankful for that.”
While her brother recovers, Autry is hoping to find the answers to the who and why. But there is a rub. N.C. Highway Patrol officials say there is no evidence that the 24-year-old was struck twice as his family believes.
Investigating Trooper C. Hall confirmed Friday that the accident is still under investigation and that officers still have not been able to talk with Sutton Autry about what happened. But preliminary N.C. Highway Patrol reports only note that the young man was struck once as he was “lying in the roadway.”
“We had to go on what we could prove,” Hall said about the investigation, “and there is no evidence that he was hit before the woman ran over him.”
That woman’s name has not been released and Hall said no charges were being filed against her in the incident.
“As we understand it, the woman was traveling down N.C. 411 and hit something.” That something turned out to be Autry who, Hall said, was lying in the roadway. “That’s a very dark road and he had on dark clothes. It would have been difficult to spot him.”
Until troopers can talk to Autry, Hall said, they had little else to go on beyond the one vehicle striking him.
“The investigation is still pending, but based on the evidence we now have, we don’t think there was another vehicle involved.”
India Autry and her family, however, think differently.
“There is no information, no leads, but Garland is a small town; surely someone knows something and will come forward. There has to be a vehicle out there with a dent in it, something that someone would notice. I’m urging anyone who has seen anything, who knows anything, to let law enforcement know,” Autry said.
Autry tips her hat to the woman who stopped and called for help. “My family and I are very, very grateful for that person who was willing to hep,” she asserted.
But those in the first vehicle, she said, had a lot of explaining to do.
“I really would like to know who did this and why they left the scene,” Autry stressed.
While her baby brother is slowly, but surely recovering, Autry said the accident had hit home. “Sure it upsets me, and it upsets my parents. They are pretty strong, but this has been hard on them. They want answers, too. From the beginning, we have known that he would pull through, and we are grateful for that, but what happened was terrible, and we would still like to know who hit him.”
And the Autrys hope someone will come forward and provide those answers.
“We certainly hope so,” India Autry attested. “It would be nice to have those answers.”