When he learned the father of a dying 11-year-old Beaufort girl was in his jail, Colleton County Sheriff Andy Strickland said the decision to allow the man to visit the child in the hospital was a simple one.
“It’s something that we would do for anybody,” Strickland said Friday. “I didn’t know Mr. Collins prior to him being incarcerated, but I do have an 11-year-old daughter. Regardless of someone making bad choices, he’s still a father, and I couldn’t imagine being incarcerated and knowing the information I was getting from medical experts.”
So Strickland did what he could.
“I couldn’t imagine not being able to tell your daughter goodbye,” Strickland said.
Collins was arrested July 28 in Colleton County once deputies learned he had a warrant on a traffic charge. He was supposed to be held in Colleton County until he could be transferred to the Beaufort County Detention Center on a separate warrant for not paying child support.
Although that is protocol, it didn’t sit well with Strickland.
Hannah had contracted the brain-eating amoeba, Naelgeria fowleri, while swimming in the Edisto River in Charleston County in July. Chances of her survival were slim.
Knowing all of that, Strickland allowed Collins to visit his daughter for an hour and a half Aug. 4.
Hannah died the next day around 10:20 p.m.
Strickland called the experience a “humbling” one, and said Hannah’s family and the medical staff were “very appreciative” of the deputies who supervised Collins during the visit.
“We did it because it was the right thing to do,” Strickland said. “(Collins) was able to spend a little bit of time with her and I think it wasn’t just for him.
“It was for that baby girl too.”