In Nick Collin’s past, he might have kept driving if he spotted a vehicle crash on his way home from work.
However, when the Carroll County man came across a charter bus with a car crashed into its side Wednesday, he thought of his own child and said he dashed to comfort a young man in his final moments of life.
“The old me would have kept going, but I'm a dad and I just couldn't leave,” Collins said.
Police said Joel William Drawbaugh of Havre de Grace was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash, which took place at Brick Store and Falls roads close to the Carroll County line near Prettyboy Reservoir.
According to police, the charter bus was carrying 41 students from St. Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel on their way to a retreat at River Valley Ranch in Manchester.
Collins happened upon the scene when he took a road home from work he does not normally take. He crested a hill and immediately saw a massive bus in the middle of the road, a crowd of teenagers running from the vehicle and the faint green mist of airbag accelerant.
Collins described a scene of mayhem where teens were screaming and confused drivers swerved around the bus, not realizing Drawbaugh was trapped inside his car, hidden from view under a curtain airbag, Collins said.
“I couldn't help that young man, but maybe my words helped him as he left this world,” Collins said.
When Collins heard sirens, he shouted “I hear them, I hear them, they’re on the way.”
By chance, an off duty emergency responder also pulled over and started taking Drawbaugh’s pulse, Collins said.
When emergency officials arrived, Collins said he watched in awe as they freed Drawbaugh and started administering medical aid. He was pronounced dead on the scene, police said.
At the end of the traumatic day, Collins posted on social media about his experience. Drawbaugh’s mother and Collins connected and she gave him a huge hug before asking about her son’s final moments, Collins said. Drawbaugh’s did not respond to a request for comment Friday.
Collin’s advice for people that heard about the crash was simple.
“Hug your family tight,” he said. “Life is so short.”