SHELBY, N.C. (WJZY) — In sad circumstances, strangers can sometimes become like family. Maybe it’s part of a long healing and grieving process. 

“I strongly believe that our fates are intertwined now,” said Darren Ivey, of Shelby, referring to an Ohio woman he talked to for the first time Monday.

Ivey and Destiny Palmer of Mansfield, Ohio, feel forever linked. On Dec. 28, 2021, Darren’s father Richard was killed in a crash not long after coming to the rescue of Palmer and her 6-month-old baby boy. 

“(Richard) is a wonderful person. He was my guardian angel that night,” Palmer said, connecting with Darren during a heart-wrenching meeting via Zoom.

“He wouldn’t see himself as a hero but that’s what he is,” Ivey told FOX 46.

“Daddy done what he always would have done, especially when there’s a child involved,” Ivey explained.

“It means a lot to me to be able to connect with you and to at least tell you how I feel,” Palmer said. 

“I don’t think I’m worth the sacrifice that he gave!” she said, sobbing as she expressed guilt for the tragic turn of events. 

Eight days ago, Palmer was on Interstate Route 71 in Ohio when she lost control while braking to avoid another vehicle. Richard, who’s a truck driver, was in the area and stopped to assist. 

“He calmed me down so much. He held Jeremiah so I could call police. Like he looked at him and made sure he was okay,” she told Darren. 

“It gives me some closure too, knowing that he actually helped out with the baby,” says Darren. 

Palmer and her child suffered minor injuries. 

But just when it appeared tragedy was averted, she said another vehicle veered towards them. 

“So I had my back turned to oncoming traffic. And I don’t know I felt a push and something slapped the right side of my body,” she recalled. 

According to the Highway Patrol, that was the moment the driver of an SUV swerved to avoid the original accident site and slammed into Richard. The 53-year-old died at the scene. 

“I’m so sorry!” Palmer said with tears streaming down her face. “I did really wish that he would have stayed in his truck… and there’s so many thoughts that go through my head. And I think about it all the time… from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep.” 

“It’s not your fault,” Darren interjected.

“It is my fault… if I had never even left that day…” she replied. 

“It’s not your fault,” Darren continued. “You did what you had to do for your child. He was bleeding bad from his head, the car was smoking. You flagged someone down and it happened to be my dad.” 

Richard was laid to rest in Shelby Wednesday.

“The only thing that matters right now is him,” Darren said, speaking of baby Jeremiah. “Making sure he stays healthy and everything.” 

His compassion for Palmer would probably make his dad proud. 

“It’ll be alright, take it one day at a time,” he said.

“Sometimes it just don’t feel like it,” Palmer said, shedding more tears.

“I know… since daddy was a truck driver, I’m still waiting on a phone call from him,” Darren said.

For all he has lost, Darren made sure to let Destiny know what he’s gained in all this.  

“I’m going to consider you like my little sister,” he told Palmer.

“Being able to have this closure with him means a lot to me,” Palmer said. 

“Destiny, if you need to talk to somebody I’m here for you. I will always be here for you,” Darren stressed.

Maybe their tearful conversation brought them a step closer to solace. Perhaps it was the beginning of a friendship forged by heartache.