Beaufort News

Dad of Beaufort brain illness victim was allowed to visit her from jail

Jeff and Hannah Collins
Jeff and Hannah Collins Jeff Collins

The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office allowed the father of an 11-year-old Beaufort girl who died after contracting a brain illness to visit her briefly before her death after he was jailed for non-payment of child support.

Jeff Collins said he was taken into custody in Colleton County on a traffic charge on July 28. Deputies then discovered he had a warrant in Beaufort County for failing to pay the child support. The warrant was issued in April 2015, he said.

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The Colleton County Sheriff’s Office allowed him to visit Hannah Collins the day before she died for an hour and a half as she laid in a hospital bed, he said. Two calls to the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office seeking comment were not returned.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to spend the time with her that I did, but I wish it could have been more,” he said Wednesday.

Hannah Collins, died at 10:20 p.m. on Friday after contracting the brain-eating amoeba, Naelgeria fowleri, while swimming in the Edisto River in Charleston County in July.

At the time of her death, Collins was still in jail and had been transferred to the Beaufort County Detention Center, Capt. Bob Bromage of the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office said on Monday.

Jeremy Lewis of Midlothian, Texas, who in 2010 lost his 7-year-old son Kyle to Primary Amoebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) - known colloquially as "brain-eating amoeba" - spoke to The Island Packet & Beaufort Gazette on Thursday, August 4, 2016, abo

By the time he was brought to Beaufort County, Collins said it was too late to see a Family Court judge about resolving the warrant. He remained in the detention center awaiting a hearing the following Monday.

He said the waiting was “absolutely devastating.”

On Monday, his brief Family Court hearing ended with Judge Gerald Smoak rescheduling it for August 24, according to the Beaufort County Family Court’s office.

Collins said Smoak sympathized with his situation and wanted him to be able to attend Hannah’s funeral on Friday.

For Collins, the relief came along with the continuing horror of how suddenly his daughter died.

Terry C. Dixon, MD, PhD – Division of Infectious Diseases at the Medical University of South Carolina Children's Hospital - Pediatrics, discusses diagnosing and treating Primary Amebic Meningoencephalitis (PAM) on Aug. 4, 2016.

A funeral Mass will be held at St. Peter’s Catholic Church on Lady’s Island Drive at 10:30 a.m. Friday. The funeral is open to the public, a family friend told The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette.

Burial will follow in the church cemetery.

The family will receive friends from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday with a prayer service at 6:30 p.m. at Anderson Funeral Home.

Caitlin Turner: 843-706-8184, @Cait_E_Turner

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