Man who lost child to amoeba infection released from jail

VIDEO: Father grieves behind bars after losing child to amoeba infection
Jeff Collins (Source: Family)
Jeff Collins (Source: Family)
Jeff with his daughter Hannah. (Source: Jeff Collins)
Jeff with his daughter Hannah. (Source: Jeff Collins)

BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Officials say the man grieving the loss of his daughter to a "brain-eating" amoeba called Naegleria fowleri has been released from jail.

Hannah Collins, 11, passed away Friday after contracting the parasite while swimming in the Edisto River.

While in jail Sunday, dad Jeff Collins said he was heartbroken and wanted to help plan his daughter's funeral. Collins said he has been held behind bars for unpaid child support, even though he claims he is not a deadbeat dad.

Collins was released Monday, according to VINELink. He says his family court judge had a heart and decided to release him, with a new court date set for another time.

"I missed the passing of my daughter," Collins said as he described the circumstances that brought him to the Beaufort County Detention Center, holding back tears and often pulling his daughter's picture from the pocket of his tan detention center shirt.

"I've been in the dark," he said.

Collins said his mother was the one who delivered the sad news his 11-year-old daughter Hannah had lost her battle with the brain infection. But Collins says it was 14 hours after the fact that he learned the devastating news.

"I'm just so scared of missing the services," he said Sunday. "I should be with my family. I am left in the dark."

Collins said he took his family to Martin's Landing on the Edisto River in late July. There, he said Hannah enjoyed repeatedly jumping into the waters using a rope swing. He called her his "river rat."

Just before Hannah got sick, Collins was picked up in Colleton County for an unpaid traffic violation.

He thanks the Colleton County sheriff for taking him from jail on Thursday to the Medical University of South Carolina see his daughter.

Hannah was gravely ill and died the following evening.

"I was able to lay next to her," he said.  "I didn't get enough time with her."

He said he was at the hospital about an hour-and-a-half and was transported back to Colleton County where Collins said the charge against him was dropped. But instead of being freed, he said he was transferred to Beaufort County to face April 2015 charges for back child support.

"We all go through hard times," Collins said, adding Hannah lived much of the time with him.

Collins said Hannah attended fifth grade in Colleton County and was named Rice Festival Princess while living with him.

"All these pictures you see of her in the Rice Festival is because of me," he said.

Collins wants to be a good father and support his family. In jail, he said, he couldn't do either.

"I didn't get to say my last good-byes," he said.

Collins figured he owed about $5,000 in back child support.

Collins said he has nothing to do with a GoFundMe page that had been set up for Hannah's expenses.

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