The last ride: Alberni family remembers Jamie Collins

Family members Bob Collins and Laura Olsen share memories about Jamie Collins, who died tragically in a cliff diving accident on Aug. 18.

Touching the sky

Bob Collins distinctly remembers the day his son Jamie Collins was born.

He’d been waiting all day for Jamie to arrive and when he didn’t his wife Anne told him to get some sleep so he did. Bob got a call that Jamie was coming but by the time he got to the hospital Jamie had arrived. “He was doing things in a hurry right away,” Bob said.

Jamie’s life was cut short in a cliff diving accident on Saturday, Aug. 18. He was 33. He is survived by his parents and his brother and sister.

Bob remembers his son as a happy and curious boy who enjoyed the outdoors and loved all animals.

Jamie was both a good son and a good brother, his sister remembered. “He had a lot of tough love for me,” Laura Olsen said. “But he was sweet, kind and compassionate and I idolized him.”

He was best friends ­ with and an accomplice to his older brother as well. “They got into a lot of trouble together but it was collaborative,” Olsen said.

Jamie was a good student and with nimble reflexes  excelled in athletics.

Popular, Jamie had a wide group of friends, but according to Bob friends Jared Mallory and Brandon Wells ran like a thread through his early and late life. “One was in business with him and the other was there the day he died.”

Although he never graduated from high school he stayed busy on the family’s farm. He also stayed busy with a pastime he discovered in childhood too —skateboarding. “I remember him skateboarding inside the house as a kid. Holes in the gyproc and all,” Bob said.

The sport was considered a fringe activity practiced by people with sketchy backgrounds. Jamie saw it differently though. He helped teach summer skateboard clinics. And he hosted an annual skateboarding event at the family farm that brought skaters and local kids together.

“They were like a tribe and they all respected Jamie,” Bob said. “He took kids under his wing and never wanted to see anyone excluded.”

Jamie went to both Vancouver and the US to pursue a professional skateboarding career.

Family came first though, and Collins un-begrudgingly returned to the farm when his father developed painful back problems.

Jamie loved being home as much as he loved his family, Bob said. “He felt a real connection to the River, the lake and to the farm,” Bob said.

He lived in Tofino and worked at building houses since 2003. He never surfed though. “He didn’t have enough meat on his bones to keep him warm,” Olsen said.

Jamie just finished building his own home, which Olsen recently toured. “There were a lot of things about it that were uniquely him,” she said.

The last time Bob saw his son alive was two days before he died. “I can still see him. He walked down to the field and said “Hey dad. Can I help you with those pipes?” Bob said. “I see him in a thousand different places when I look out at the farm. He loved it here.”

A celebration of life is planned at Arrowvale Farm on Sunday, Aug. 26 from 1-3 p.m.

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