HOUSTON, Texas — It seems Harris County has seen a new wave of road rage violence with an increase in crashes and even in shootings.
Sept. 9, 2020, is one day Destiny Downey will never forget.
“Just driving home, five minutes from home. Almost home," Downey said. “This car almost hits me, basically, and they start to engage me and try to hit my car, and they continue following me and engaging me.”
On her way home from work, Destiny was at a red light.
“She kept telling me, 'Honk again and see what happens,'" Downey said. “As soon as I start to pull off, they start shooting into my car. And I didn’t realize it, in the beginning, that I had been shot. I couldn’t make sense of a bullet going through me, going through my car, so I thought, 'Did they throw a rock at me?'”
The bullet went through Destiny’s chest. She lay in the street until help arrived.
That shooter is yet to be found.
“The only way that they can be caught is if they’re linked to another crime, or if someone turns them in," Downey said.
Road rage injuries have accelerated over the years, not just in shootings, but in crashes as well.
Data from the Texas Department of Transportation shows there were 365 road rage crashes last year, averaging one per day. That's an increase of 22% over the year before and it's the highest percentage in years.
This January alone, 17 crashes were linked to road rage.
This KHOU 11 News analysis reveals hot spots where those crashes have happened the most since 2018.
While the data is harder to gather on road rage shootings, the Harris County District Attorney’s office said they appear to be on the rise.
Police said one woman was arrested on Feb. 7 for pulling a gun on another driver after a car wreck. They say she then fired two rounds into the other person’s tire.
Today, Destiny has put the past in the rearview. The future is now her only focus. She's moving forward with the help of an unexpected friend.
“I'm going to get the same thing I always get," Destiny said, ordering coffee at Cavo Coffee on Richmond.
It’s a personal thing to know about someone - how they like their coffee.
"She likes her coffee cold. I know that," Destiny said.
"You usually get like hot coffees," Angelique replied.
But these two got personal the moment they met – the day Destiny almost died.
"And then the light turns green, and as soon as I start to pull off, they start shooting into my car," Destiny said. "So I get out of my car, and I lay in the street. And I wait for help. It was about a minute before I became unconscious," Destiny said.
She was alone in the road, waiting for an angel.
“I was towards the end of my day, winding down, when I ran across, stumbled across this one," Angelique said.
Riding in a Uber, Angelique Gioldasis zoomed in to snap a photo.
“That’s when I realized it was a person, and I don’t even think my driver had stopped moving by the time I jumped out of the car," Angelique said.
Angelique was the first to Destiny’s side.
"I didn’t know what had happened. I definitely did not think she was shot," Angelique said.
"I just heard like this sweet angelic voice that was telling me, 'It’s okay baby, it’s okay. Stay awake,'" Destiny said.
"I obviously didn’t know her name, so I just kept calling her sweet girl," Angelique said.
The next part became a blur for them both.
"I woke up, and I, my head was laying in Angelique's lap, and she was holding my hand," Destiny said.
"I'm just looking at this gorgeous girl, thinking, 'Oh my God, this is someone I would be friends with,'" Angelique said.
When the ambulance arrived, they split apart.
"I wanted to go with her so bad, but I couldn’t," Angelique said.
Destiny remembers the hospital and the moments before surgery.
"Everything felt like it took a lifetime," Destiny said. "At that point, I was pretty close to death because my lung had been punctured by the bullet, so my lung was filling up with blood."
But when she came out, it was that voice she couldn’t forget, and a message on Facebook told her who it belonged to.
“I actually went on Facebook to send her a request, and she had already requested me," Destiny said.
Moments later, she was hearing the voice once again.
“I video-called her, and she answered and immediately started bawling," Destiny said.
“I never expected her to want to meet me. I just wanted to know she was okay," Angelique said.
Destiny spent a month in the hospital, and her recovery at home hasn’t been easy.
“I’m trying to get back to my normal life, as normal as it can be," Destiny said.
But a new friend is helping out.
“It’s almost as if we’ve known each other for a lifetime," Angelique said.
“We’re going to be like this forever," Destiny said.
It’s hard to imagine something incredible could come from something so cruel.
“Me and her have a connection that I don’t have with anyone else," Angelique said.
Angelique was the angel Destiny never knew she had.
“I remembered thinking before when I was laying there dying that it sounded like an angel was talking to me," Destiny said.
And for Angelique, saving the life of the woman across the table was her destiny.
“There was no reason why I should’ve been in that area, at that time, it was all, meant to be, yeah. It was destiny," Angelique said.
A friendship meant to be.
“Cheers to that," Angelique said.