For the past year, Jennifer Murphy has taken the same route to and from work. Though lengthy — three hours round-trip, on a good day — she never minded it.
But now, her daily routine is a reminder of the moment her life changed. As she takes the turn on Wilton Road in Peterborough, she’s forced to see the site of her husband Daniel’s fatal car crash.
“It’s a bad nightmare for me,” she said Monday night, eight days after the crash.
It had been a normal day for both of them, Jennifer said.
After Daniel got off his shift at American Medical Response’s Nashua branch — where he, like Jennifer, worked as a paramedic — he called her and asked if she needed anything on his way home.
This phone call was routine.
“He called me at 2:04 [p.m.], and we talked our normal, little conversation,” she said. “He sounded fine ... I don’t know what happened.”
But around 2:45 p.m., Daniel, 48, drifted off the road in his 2014 Dodge pickup, and the truck hit a tree. He was taken by ambulance to Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough and then flown to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.
But, his injuries were too severe. He died in the hospital three days later, Jennifer by his side, the night of Nov. 20.
‘He loved being a paramedic’
Daniel — whose friends and loved ones mourned him during calling hours at St. Bernard’s Church in Keene Tuesday — was devoted to serving the community in more than three decades as a first responder. He first got involved in firefighting at only 15, gaining work experience in New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and Arizona.
“He’d always said he’d been putting Band-Aids on boo-boos since he was in diapers,” Jennifer recalled with a chuckle Monday night. “Being a care provider, in general, was what he loved to do.”
In addition to his service as an AMR paramedic since 2016, Daniel worked for Alstead Ambulance and was assistant chief for the Marlow Fire Department from 2017 to 2018.
This week would’ve marked Daniel’s three-year anniversary with AMR, according to Regional Director Chris Stawasz.
“Dan loved his family first, but he loved being a paramedic [as a] very close second,” he said the day after Daniel’s death. “He was willing to go the extra mile for somebody. He was just a good guy. It was in his blood.”
It started with apple picking
Jennifer first met Daniel when she moved to New Hampshire in 2012 and — right on brand — it was on an ambulance.
The two were working for an ambulance service in Merrimack. Jennifer didn’t have her paramedic license yet, so she was responsible for driving patients to health care facilities throughout New Hampshire for routine appointments.
But one winter, the van’s heat wasn’t working, and Jennifer said she refused to transport patients in the cold.
“So they sent me over to Dan’s station ... to get some experience,” she said. “Maybe a few times [after] I would pretend my van was still broken.”
And though the two hit it off, Jennifer said they lost touch for a while, when Daniel — who was born in Concord but living in Gilsum when he died — moved to Arizona for a job as an emergency department medic. But, he soon came back to the Granite State and rekindled their connection.
He sent Jennifer a Facebook message, she said, asking her out on a date.
At this point, Jennifer said she’d been a single mom for about seven years, raising two children. Though Daniel knew about her kids, she said, she’d had bad experience in the past with men not wanting to get to know them.
“I said I needed to find a babysitter, and he said ‘No, you don’t,’ “ Jennifer recalled. “He invited us to Alyson’s Orchard, and we went as a group. So, our first date was apple picking.”
The couple married in 2015, after Daniel asked her oldest son, Nathanial Lund, for permission.
“My father had passed away ... I thought it was so respectful for him to do something like that,” Jennifer said.
Daniel had always accepted Jennifer’s kids as his own, she said. He also has a son from a previous marriage, Alexander “A.J.” Murphy, 13, and was in the process of adopting Jennifer’s boys — Nathanial, 18, and Zachary Lund, 11.
They also had a child together: Hunter, 3.
“I can’t say enough how lucky I was and am to be his wife,” Jennifer said. “He used to call me ‘my amazing, wonderful and beautiful princess.’ Every morning, even if we were home together, I’d get that text.”
‘Dan made such an impact’
Daniel’s sudden death has brought an uproar of support to Jennifer and the kids, even from people she doesn’t know.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by Stawasz, of AMR, for the family, to help with essential items and holiday expenses. The page exceeded its $5,000 goal in only a few hours, and the goal has since been raised twice, now set at $25,000. As of Tuesday night, the page had raised more than $19,000.
“We are hoping for some good support from people,” Stawasz said previously, “so that they can be financially sound for the holiday season and not have to worry about those things.”
Daniel’s AMR partner, James Hassam, echoed Stawasz during Tuesday’s calling hours.
“Dan was a kind-hearted, funny guy ... all of us will be here to take care of his family,” Hassam said. “Jenn will have nothing to worry about.”
Donors are not just from the Monadnock Region, Jennifer explained, but from across the national EMS community.
In addition to the fundraiser, she’s also received hundreds of phone calls, texts and Facebook messages from people sending her kind words or offering to help.
“The outpour of support and everything has been overwhelming and just amazing,” she said. “He was just that kind of person to make an impression on everyone.”
A Liturgy of the Word for Daniel will be celebrated at St. Bernard Church, 185 Main St. in Keene, on Wednesday at 11 a.m. Burial will follow in St. Joseph’s Cemetery on Route 12.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks people to donate to the Daniel T. Murphy Scholarship Fund through N.H. Technical Institute in Concord.
“Dan made such an impact,” Jennifer said. “He would walk into a room and make some stupid joke and make everybody laugh. He was good for all the non-useful information I could need ... I can’t say enough how amazing this man was.”