BEDFORD - What police said began as an argument over softball escalated into an alcohol-fueled shoving match and ended, nearly two months later, with a Bedford County man dead and his friend in jail facing a manslaughter charge.
Dennis Sprigg, 49, of Manns Choice lay comatose for more than a month after his friend, Randy Foor, pushed him during a drunken dispute on Aug. 11, state police at Bedford said. Sprigg fell onto a piece of pavement, his head striking loud enough for other guests at the Bedford Township party to hear it cracking off the ground.
"The defendant was crying and saying he was so sorry," a state police trooper said in affidavit, citing a witness.
Sprigg died nearly seven weeks later at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, after doctors' repeated attempts at brain surgery. An autopsy ruled blunt force trauma as the cause of death, police said.
Party guests told police the men had been drinking and arguing throughout the night at Foor's home on Chalybeate Road near the Bedford County Airport.
As they were "talking and bragging each other up," Foor, 51, allegedly pushed his friend as if to say, "I don't believe you," police noted, citing Foor's statements during an interview.
Sprigg was knocked unconscious, and party guests called for an ambulance when they realized he was bleeding from one ear, police said.
After emergency medical workers arrived, Sprigg regained consciousness, blaming Foor as his friend repeatedly apologized, police said.
"Since this happened, [Foor] does not like to talk about it, because it's his friend and it was his fault," a witness and acquaintance told state police in October.
Foor even visited his unconscious friend in the hospital and attended funeral services after Sprigg succumbed to his injuries, said defense attorney Joel D. Peppetti of Thomas M. Dickey Law Offices.
State police arrested Foor Friday. He remained in Bedford County Jail in lieu of bail Monday, set to face involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault charges at a Wednesday hearing before Magisterial District Judge H. Cyril Bingham Jr.
Calls to Foor's home were not answered Monday, nor were online messages to friends, relatives and witnesses.
Peppetti called Sprigg's death a "horrible, tragic accident," saying Monday that the defense planned to take the case to trial.
Sprigg's level of intoxication was at least partly to blame, he said, questioning whether Foor's shove would have caused such a rough fall - and with it, such serious injuries - had Sprigg been sober.
Peppetti said police reports haven't indicated Foor was trying to seriously hurt Sprigg, whom he portrayed as a softball teammate and drinking partner.
"He feels terrible," Peppetti said. "These two, by all accounts, were friends."
Mirror Staff Writer Ryan Brown is at 946-7457.