Vietnam vet, Luling man fondly remembered after accident

Was hit while riding bicycle on Hwy. 90

Many in St. Charles Parish were hit hard by the news that John Collins of Luling had been seriously injured in an accident on Highway 90 last Friday, when his bicycle and a vehicle collided in front of Winn Dixie in Luling.

Collins was airlifted to University Hospital after the accident and was put on a ventilator. He suffered several cervical fractures and serious head injuries, and ultimately, it led to his passing Thursday evening.

Those who knew him well have fond memories of him, and the same for many who didn’t as well – the image of Collins riding his bicycle along the roads of the parish is one locals have seen over and over again, since he moved to St. Charles in 1974.

A Vietnam veteran, Collins was a close friend to the late Clayton Faucheux Sr., former St. Charles Parish councilman.

“He was such a good friend to my dad,” said Kelley Faucheux, who fondly recalled Collins spending some holidays with their family. “I remember being at my dad’s services … he put his head and his hand on his coffin and just cried like I never had seen a man cry before. It broke my heart. It’s how much my dad meant to him.”

Clayton Sr. became a caretaker for Collins, who suffered from severe PTSD following his war experience. Collins didn’t let that stop him from becoming a positive light for those around him—and a popular figure around the parish.

“He was an innocent, pure man. He had no idea of hate, racism, material things, all of the things that divide us today as a country, he knew nothing about,” Faucheux said.

Robbie Brown, meanwhile, befriended Collins in a different way. She was attending a class at the then-named First Presbyterian Church when called upon to reach out and help others in the community. For Brown, that brought Collins to mind.

“I’d spot him out twice a week, like everyone around here did, riding his bike,” she said. “I wondered who he was, or if anyone paid attention to him. I started asking around if anyone knew him.”

[pullquote]“He was an innocent, pure man … he had no idea of hate … all of the things that divide us today as a country.”  — Kelley Faucheux[/pullquote]

Brown wanted to drive Collins to do his grocery shopping each week to keep him out the rain on his bike and to lessen the burden of bringing his purchases back home. She was able to find him and went on to do just that. The two struck up a friendship.

She said Collins was quick to open up to new people, and once he did, a wonderful personality would shine through.

“If you’d talk to him and just met him … he asked me if I knew Jesus. He’ll do that after about 10 minutes, even if he didn’t know you. He was a really sweet person,” she said.

“He’s not a beggar, or someone who asks for much. But when you talk to him, you just want to help him. He’s that kind of person.”

She started to tear up.

“It bothers me when I lay down at night,” Brown said. “I try not to think about it. I’ll remember seeing him on the side of the road, waving at me. It’s very upsetting.”

Collins was originally a native of West Virginia, where much of his family resides today.

St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said the State Police conducted the accident investigation at his office’s request and that the other driver involved was not injured and determined to be not at fault.

“We need to keep (the other driver) in our prayers as well,” Champagne said.


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