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Suit settled for $504,000

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Family accepts payout in death of middle school student Logan Collins

By Carol A. Clark

A mother’s grief in losing her son was compounded by having to consider whether to file a claim against Los Alamos County for his death.

Tonya Collins’ son Logan, 12, died from injuries after being struck by a pickup last fall.

“One thing I struggled with this whole time was the idea of getting money from my son’s death,” said Collins of White Rock Tuesday. “But I had his medical bills to pay plus my insurance company wanted me to pay because Tylerr (the driver involved in accident) was uninsured.”

The county and the estate of Logan Collins reached a settlement agreement approved by the First Judicial District Court June 3. Under the agreement, the county will pay $504,000, through the New Mexico Self Insurer’s Fund, into an account set aside for Collins’ estate, according to a statement issued by county spokeswoman Julie Habiger.

The New Mexico Self-Insurers Fund, which represented the county in the settlement, is an insurance pool of New Mexico municipalities and other political subdivisions, including the county, through the New Mexico Municipal League.

“I worry that people will think we have all this money but we don’t,” Collins said. “Once we paid the attorney’s fees and $42,000 for medical and car insurance, I had to split the money with my ex-husband…I put my part into my kids’ college fund.”

Logan Collins was the third of four children born to Collins and former husband Floyd Collins now living in Hobbs. Jessica, 19, graduated this year from Los Alamos High School, Sophia, 16, attends LAHS and Taylor, 11, goes to Chamisa.

Logan died following an accident Nov. 18. The seventh grader was on his way to basketball practice at the Los Alamos Middle School gymnasium shortly before 6 p.m. He got off an Atomic City Transit bus near the school, crossed in front of the bus and was struck by another vehicle.

He died the following day from his injuries. Los Alamos County owns and operates Atomic City Transit.

A police investigation last fall determined that John Danforth of Los Alamos was driving the bus. Danforth was cited for stopping on a marked crosswalk and stopping at an undesignated bus stop of which both are violations of parking regulations.

Rollin Tylerr Jones, 31, of Los Alamos was driving the 2002 Chevy Avalanche that struck Logan near the intersection of San Ildefonso Road and Hawk Drive.

The investigation found that Jones would not have had sufficient time to stop or avoid Collins as he emerged from in front of the bus. The investigation further revealed that Jones was traveling at the posted speed limit and had no evidence of alcohol or drugs in his system as confirmed from blood tests taken immediately after the crash.

Jones was cited for no proof of insurance and an expired registration.

Prior to the accident, the county had been working with local school officials to design public education materials for students in elementary, middle and high school about riding Atomic City Transit and school buses safely, the county said in its statement. In March, the county added it administered its first safety training to more than 2,500 students in the Los Alamos Public Schools grades Kindergarten through 9th grade.

“The county takes public education and outreach efforts about bus safety seriously and providing safe passage for every rider on Atomic City Transit is a top priority,” officials said in the statement. “The county will continue to work with the local schools and parents on educating children about bus safety.”

At the conclusion of the accident investigation, the county chose to move away from the flagging system it had been using at the time of Collin’s death and now uses designated bus stops for all Atomic City Transit operations.

“Logan’s death was a tragic accident that has profoundly impacted our small community,” Habiger said in the statement. “With this settlement agreement, our hope is that everyone involved will be able to move forward.”