Family shares painful graduation story; warns of dangers of grad parties

ST. SIMON'S ISLAND, Ga. -- For thousands of high school seniors on the First Coast, making it to graduation is a memory they look forward to, but for one local family, it was a memory their son never got to experience. He didn't die because of a drunk driver, or in a teen traffic crash, but because of what happened at a reportedly unsupervised "Senior House."

"One of the best parts of being a kid is the first time you get in trouble you usually catch a break, my son didn't catch a break. Too much alcohol too fast, you're looking at the results," said Woody Collins as he sat in front of his 18-year-old son's grave.

The night before his graduation in 2013, William Dalton Collins and a group of friends were staying at a 'Senior House" in East Beach on St. Simon's Island. Senior Houses are known to be unchaperoned properties rented out for graduation parties.

"We left the soccer banquet probably around 9:30 at night and sent all the left over foods with the two truck full of boys heading to East Beach then the doorbell rings just after 5 a.m.," said Donna Collins, Dalton's mother.

Officers arrived at the family's home and said Collins was found unresponsive. He died of alcohol poisoning on his graduation day.

"I still have a hard time understanding that with that many kids that not one of them was brave enough, strong enough, to call a parent, another friend, somebody to say this is out of control." added Donna.

Police say 12 underage people were charged with possession of alcohol. They found liquor, beer, wine, and marijuana in the house.

This May, the Glynn County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution urging adults not to rent property out for these types of parties.

"Kids need to be supervised. There's just too much out there that can hurt them," said Collins.

Dalton was graduating from Glynn Academy and was going to attend Georgia Southern University. This year his mother spoke at the Glynn Academy graduation and presented a slide show with Dalton's story in hopes that her story could prevent this happening to another teen.

"We think about him every day," said Collins.

"Every hour of every day," added Donna.

The summer months are called the 100 deadliest days of summer because of the increase in traffic accidents involving teenagers. AAA says on average 261 teens die in accidents during the summer months, that's a 26 percent increase from the rest of the year.


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