Get the latest from TODAY
Just when Gina Headen thought it couldn't get any worse, she found herself getting pulled over for going 65 in a 55 zone on Dec. 3.
She just lost her dad, Charles Penny, 75, on Nov. 11 after years of battling Alzheimer's disease. He was also diagnosed with kidney cancer in September, which is when he moved in with Headen, her husband, Steve Headen, and their three sons.
"He wasn't even aware of the fact that he had cancer, that's how bad it was," Headen told TODAY.com.
When she handed over her license and registration to Deputy Dan Hill of the St. Clair County Sheriff's Department in Belleville, Illinois, all she could think about is what her dad would be saying at that moment.
"Boy would my dad be disappointed in me," Headen, 45, said. "He never sped and would think it was pretty stupid of me to be spending money on a ticket."
To her surprise, when Hill came back, he said, "Today's your lucky day, we were born on the same day and year. Slow down and have a good day."
"I was shocked and thought my dad was probably sitting next to him in his patrol car telling him to cut me a break because I was going through too much," Headen said.
After they said their goodbyes, Headen covered her face with her hands, leaning on the steering wheel, when she heard a knock at the window.
It was Hill asking if she was OK.
"I told him why I was crying and he told me to take a deep breath and we spoke about my dad for a few minutes," Headen said. "He said that my dad must've been a wonderful man and then I told him how much I miss him."
Hill followed her in his car to make sure she was able to drive all right and then he was off. Headen, who was just relieved to be off the hook, thought that that was the end, until she received a letter in the mail from him one week later.
"My condolence on the loss of your father," Hill wrote. "I'm sure he was a great man who loved his family. I pray that your tears of sadness becomes tears of joy in remembering his legacy."
Headen couldn't believe what she was holding in her hands.
"I was shocked that he was thinking about me a whole week later," Headen said. "He must be an angel."
She posted the story on Facebook in hopes of changing the way her community viewed the St. Clair County officers.
"I wanted to show people that the officers in our area really do care about us and we should be thankful," Headen said.