Jennifer Fisher remembers returning home from a long day at work one day, and as she walked into the bedroom, her late husband, Darrell, playfully jumped on her. Their children ran in and took a picture of the couple while they laughed.
“He was that type of person,” Fisher, 43, said Wednesday as she gathered with family and friends. “He was funny.”
That picture is one of Fisher’s most prized possessions, one she has looked at many times since Tuesday afternoon, when S.C. Highway Patrol officials knocked on her door and told her Darrell was gone.
The man she had loved for more than 25 years was suddenly gone a day before Christmas, a day they planned to spend together.
On Dec. 24, Darrell Christopher Fisher, 48, was driving his sister, 47-year-old Jerilyn Fisher, and her son William Breon Fisher, 16, north on U.S. 521in Lancaster County. They were going to Charlotte, so that Breon – as he was called – could visit his father.
The three Catawba residents never arrived. Their 1998 Chevrolet Malibu 4-door traveled off U.S. 521 into the median before going off an overpass at S.C. 75 and down a 40-foot embankment. The car cleared a line of railroad tracks before crashing into the opposite embankment, said Highway Patrol Cpl. Bryan McDougald.
None of the three survived the crash. Their bodies were discovered Tuesday.
The Lancaster County Coroner’s Office determined the crash must have happened sometime between 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Christmas Eve day.
Jennifer and Darrell Fisher have three children – Darian, 23, Latoya, 22, and Lekeshia, 20 – as well as two stepchildren, Remington Hayes, 28, and Joaquan Howze, 29.
Fisher remembered the day she and Darrell got married. They had been together already for 17 years.
“All of a sudden he said one day, ‘I'm going to work late because we need to go to Chester,’” she said. “I thought we were going over there to pay taxes on the car. Instead, we went over there to the courthouse. I said, ‘Are you serious?’ and he said he was.”
Darrell Fisher grew up in a family of five sisters and two brothers. His sister, Jerilyn Fisher, was “shy, but she'd help you do anything,” Jennifer Fisher said.
And her son Breon was like a ray of sunshine to the family, she said.
“Breon was lively,” Jennifer Fisher said. “You’d never see him with a frown on his face. When he jumped out of the car, you knew who he was by the smile.”
Ida McMullen, 50, grew up with the Fisher family.
“We were at their house as much as they were at ours,” she said Wednesday. “We were like sisters. They called my mom ‘Mom,’ and we call their mom ‘Mom.’”
The family often kept in touch with their friends and with each other.
“They're a close-knit family,” McMullen said. “You don't see one without three or four of the other.”
Jennifer Fisher agreed, explaining that Darrell and Jerilyn Fisher always spent time with their siblings.
“People loved him,” she said. “Every time we get together, they would talk about old times. It's real fun.”
Their absence during the family’s Christmas dinner was their clue that something wasn’t right.
“It was really unusual for him not to be here,” Fisher said. “Everyone was calling around to confirm to each other they hadn’t seen them yet. You expect somebody to be gone for two or three days, but after awhile...”
They filed a missing persons report with the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office immediately. But it wasn’t until around noon Tuesday that anyone knew about the crash, when railroad employees discovered the wreckage. It hadn’t been visible by motorists on U.S. 521.
On Wednesday, McDougald said Highway Patrol continues to investigate the cause of the crash.
Meanwhile, the family is mourning the loss of three special people, during the holidays when families gather.
Latoya Fisher, the Fishers’ oldest daughter, said she had a “great dad” who “loved his grandkids.”
He spent a lot of time with Latoya’s children, 4-year-old Ja’Noah and 1-year-old Desmond Fisher, playing in the yard and riding bikes.
He’d also just visited his newest grandchild, 3-week-old Hunter Hayes, on Friday.
“I can't picture life without him,” Latoya Fisher said. “It's going to be hard.”
Funeral arrangements will be announced. The family is being assisted by King’s Funeral Home, 135 Cemetery St., Chester.