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Heartbroken father mourns from jail after daughter dies from brain-eating amoeba

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BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. – A South Carolina girl died last week after contracting the so-called brain-eating amoeba, and her father is heartbroken he didn’t have the chance to say a final goodbye.

Hannah Collins, 11, died Friday after contracting Naegleria fowleri while swimming in the Edisto River in July. Her father, Jeff Collins, was in jail when she died. He was being held for unpaid child support.

Collins, who said his daughter lived much of the time with him, estimated he owed about $5,000 in back child support.

He was released from jail Monday, days after his daughter passed away. He said he learned of her death from his mother some 14 hours after the fact.

“I’m just so scared of missing the services,” he told WCSC Sunday. “I should be with my family. I am left in the dark.”

Collins took his family to the Edisto River in late July. He recalled how Hannah jumped repeatedly into the water with a rope swing. She contracted the amoeba from the body of water.

Collins was able to see her Thursday because the sheriff took him from jail to the Medical University of South Carolina so he could be with her. He was able to lie next to his gravely ill daughter but said he “didn’t get enough time with her.”

Collins said the visit lasted about an hour-and-a-half before he went back to jail.

“I didn’t get to say my last goodbyes.”