Indiana father who drove his truck into shallow river, let 2-year-old Emma Sweet drown gets 40-year sentence

Jeremy Sweet admitted he was on meth when he drove his truck into the river, killing Emma Sweet, 2

An Indiana man will spend four decades behind bars after driving his truck into a shallow river under the influence of marijuana and methamphetamine — although bystanders were able to rescue the father, his 2-year-old daughter, Emma Sweet, drowned in the vehicle. 

Jeremy Sweet, 41, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for neglect of a dependent and an additional 10 years for a habitual offender enhancement on Tuesday after pleading guilty to both charges, WRTV reported. 

Emma likely died some time on Thanksgiving Day in 2021. She and her father were last seen together on Nov. 24, 2021, and reported missing the next day, according to an affidavit of probable cause. 

Emma Sweet

Emma Sweet was reported missing after her father picked her up from her mother's on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, and never returned. Her body was found by divers on Nov. 26 in the White River. (Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office)


After Sweet was rescued from the truck by duck hunters on Nov. 26, 2021, he told investigators that he had taken a friend to work, got lost in some fields, took a wrong turn on a dirt road and accidentally fell into the east fork of the White River.

The two-year-old's body was recovered by divers days later on Nov. 28, Fox News Digital previously reported, and likely died on Thanksgiving. The river was between three and five feet deep where the truck was submerged, law enforcement determined, and they believe Sweet drove his vehicle into the body of water from an embankment 15 to 20 feet above the river.

The girl’s official cause of death was described as "complications of hypothermia and asphyxia due to drowning," and was ruled a homicide, FOX 59 reported. 

Sweet, 41, was later charged with two felonies: neglect of a dependent resulting in death and unlawful possession of a syringe, according to the station. At the time he was pulled from the water, he was out on bond for unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon as well as possession of methamphetamine, the sheriff’s office said.

Jeremy Sweet mugshot

Jeremy Sweet, 41, pleaded guilty to one count each of neglect of a dependent resulting in death and a habitual offender enhancement for drug crimes on Tuesday. (Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office)


In an interview with detectives the day after his daughter's body was discovered, Sweet admitted that he was high on meth and marijuana when he drove the car into the river. 

then gave multiple differing accounts of what happened. In one version, Sweet told investigators that he dropped his daughter off somewhere before the truck went into the water. Later, his story changed, and he admitted that the girl was in the car at the time. 

Submerged truck belonging to Jeremy Sweet

Investigators said that the river was three to five feet deep where the truck was submerged, and believe that Jeremy Sweet drove the vehicle into the river from an embankment 15 to 20 feet high.  (Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office)


"Jeremy said that water was coming into the truck, so he put Emma on the hood or roof of the truck," the affidavit read. "Jeremy said that he and Emma fell into the water."

In another version, Sweet said that he grabbed his daughter and climbed onto the roof of the truck before falling into the water. Then, Sweet said, he put his daughter on the roof alone and fell asleep. When he woke up, the girl was gone, he said. 

Sweet said he last saw the girl on the roof of the truck "yelling for her mom," the Indianapolis Star reported. 

Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office at scene of Emma Sweet drowning

Two-year-old Emma Sweet's body was recovered on Nov. 28, 2021, two days after her father was rescued from the submerged vehicle. (Bartholomew County Sheriff's Office)

At the crash site, investigators saw that one of the truck's windshield wipers were bent, appearing "as if someone had been hanging on it," former Sheriff Matt Myers said during the search for the girl in 2021, according to The Republic.

Law enforcement later learned that Sweet had been at a Casino in nearby Shelbyville with two friends the day before the crash, and picked up his daughter from her mother in Columbus on Thanksgiving Day when her mother had to go to work. 

At his sentencing, Sweet broke down emotionally and apologized to his ex-wife for losing their daughter. 

"There's nothing I can say to change what has happened," he said, according to courtroom reporting by The Republic. "But I swear to God on everything I love that I'm so sorry."

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