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Student saves 203 lives

Nick Thompson / Photographer A memorial has been set up at the site of the crash.

Nick Thompson / Photographer
A memorial has been set up at the site of the crash.

The March 29 accident may have taken his life, but Michael Collins saved the lives of others by donating his organs and leaving an unforgettable mark on those who knew him 

ISU student Michael Collins was pronounced dead April 2, but those who knew him are continuing to share his legacy with others.

Collins was involved in a two-car accident Saturday, March 29 that left him in critical condition. He immediately underwent brain surgery, but was taken off life support April 2 and pronounced dead from head injuries.

As an organ donor, Collins was able to save and improve the lives of 200 people.

“The other three lives he saved were the ones who miraculously survived the accident — Sam, Ali and myself,” Tawni Ricketts, senior public relations major, said.

Collins was a senior exercise science major and 2010 graduate of Normal Community West High School. Before coming to ISU, he played two seasons of baseball at Heartland Community College and made many accomplishments in the NJCAA World Series. His hobbies included being an assistant baseball coach for U-High, golfing and spending time with his two dogs.

Ricketts said Collins will be remembered for his love of baseball and his ability to make everyone around him laugh.

“Him and his best friend Jacob think their signatures look like professional baseball players,” Ricketts added. “It’s hilarious.”

“People who knew him [Collins] think of him as a funny, kind-hearted guy who lived his life with integrity,” Jacob Birlingmier, Collins’ best friend, said.

“The way he went about his business was uncommon, both in and out of the classroom,” Birlingmier added.

“Michael was a great student to have in class,” Dale Brown, professor of exercise physiology, said. “He always had a big smile on his face and had a way about him of raising the spirits of other students and teachers.”

Birlingmier said Collins was one of a kind and will be missed by a lot of people.

Collins’ funeral will be at 2 p.m. Tuesday at Eastview Christian Church in Normal according to the Carmody-Flynn Funeral Home website. His burial will be in Gridley Cemetery in Gridley, Ill. Collins’ visitation will be from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday at the church.

Donations to The Michael Collins Foundation will help fund activities important to him such as a baseball scholarship for Heartland Community College and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). A donation page is set up on the Live Forward website and gifts can also be deposited or mailed to Heartland Bank in Bloomington.

The three females involved in the accident also suffered injuries but are expected to make full recoveries.

Ricketts is currently at a rehabilitation center in Davenport, Iowa recuperating from back and pelvic fractures. She will be in a wheelchair for at least 30 days but her injuries will not require surgery.

ISU has been very understanding of Ricketts’ situation and she will be able to graduate on May 9.

Senior public relations major Ali Seys suffered a concussion from the accident. Sam Nelson, freshman at Heartland Community College and driver of the vehicle carrying the students, had stiches in her chin.

“We’re all doing very well and we talk everyday,” Ricketts explained. “We all now share a special bond and have become so close.”

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