Missing Jamie: Collins family helps others in wake of loss

A trail of lit smiling pumpkins welcoming motorists to the West Coast blazed in memory of Jamie Collins.

His parents, Ann and Bob Collins of Port Alberni, laid out the carved pumpkins Halloween night at dusk under a silvery half-moon.

The Collins grow and sell organic pumpkins each fall. The ones at the corner were carved by kids in the neighbourhood of the Collins’ farm, and originally sat on a pumpkin trail there.

“Our son Jamie just loved Halloween,” Ann said as she placed a massive pumpkin with “JAMIE” carved into it. “We brought the pumpkins to this spot to remember Jamie. We all are unique individuals, and Jamie particularly loved Halloween and loved this type of thing, he would like this idea of decorating,” Ann said.

Jamie Collins died on Aug. 17, 2012 after plunging into the Kennedy River in a cliff diving accident while on a stop with friends between the West Coast and Port Alberni.

He was 33.

“Jamie’s passion was skateboarding. He was very selfless about it, and he loved the idea of empowering young people to learn to skate and find what they loved to do and what made them happy,” Ann said, recalling her son digging into his collection of skateboards constructed as part of his business in order to get some young skateboarder started.

“One boy said he was never very good at anything until Jamie taught him how to skateboard,” she said.

The Jamie Collins Legend and Legacy Fund started with memorial gifts continues to fund recreational and educational programs in Port Alberni, Ucluelet, and Tofino, Bob Collins said.

So far, thousands of dollars have been invested in programming there and a dinosaur camp at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, Bob said.

The Collins family misses their son and brother still, as do friends in places like Tofino, where hundreds of pairs of shoes thrown over a line by the skatepark honour Jamie’s memory.

“It doesn’t seem fair, but death happens to us all,” Ann said.

jcarmichael@westerlynews.ca