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Cliff-jump victim was skateboard guru for kids

Aug 21 2012

Children in Tofino are bringing flowers to the home of Jamie Collins, a 33-year-old skateboarder who died while jumping off a cliff into the Kennedy River.

The Tofino resident was well-known for teaching Tofino-area kids skateboarding skills. He and his best friend of 20 years, Brandon Wells, used to run skateboard camps through the parks and recreation department in Port Alberni, where he grew up.

"He was extremely good with children. He could just relate to kids. He helped a lot of young people get into skateboarding," said his mother, Ann Collins, from the family's farm in Port Alberni.

Jamie Collins was with three friends Friday when he climbed onto a cliff about 20 metres above the river. His friends heard a splash and noticed he was unconscious, but couldn't find him when they searched the river. His body was recovered the following day.

Collins and Wells had started their own skateboard company, Instrumental Skateboards, in 2007, a year after they started spray-painting boards for children. The company now sells boards across the Island and in Vancouver.

The company's artist, Russ Morland, has designed and painted a skateboard in Collins' honour with a dinosaur design. "Anyone who knows Jamie knows he was obsessed with dinosaurs," Wells said with a laugh.

Family and friends have been gathering at the farm where Collins grew up with his brother Don, 35, and sister Laura, 28.

His mom said Collins strived to shed a positive light on skateboarding and treated it like a sport.

"Jamie was so fun-loving. Every day was an adventure for him - he just loved life," she said.

Collins, who lived and worked in Tofino with his girlfriend of six years, Isla Thomas, owned a construction company with Don. In every house they built together, Collins would place a fresh Instrumental skateboard in the walls.

When Collins was about 17, he moved to California to take a shot at making it as a pro skater, Wells said. He was starting to meet the right people when his father, Bob Collins, got hurt at the farm.

"Jamie packed up his car with no hesitation" and came home. "He was never sad about it," Wells said.

"He was always there when you needed him."

mkaralis@timescolonist.com

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