King firefighter hit by minivan to be released from hospital

Lt. Les Collins

Lt. Les Collins

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — A King volunteer firefighter who was hit by a minivan Monday while preparing to leave the scene of a tractor-trailer wreck may be released from the hospital by tomorrow.

King Fire Chief Steven Roberson said Lt. Les Collins is “feeling much better” and walking around since his stay at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.  He may be released from the hospital either late Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, Roberson said.

Along with severe road rash and swelling, Collins suffered a broken pinky finger and bruised pelvis when he was struck on Highway 52 north near mile marker 120 shortly after 5 a.m. Monday.

Collins, who has served in the department for nearly 15 years, was heading to a King Fire Department car to leave the scene when a minivan drove through a barricade meant to divert traffic onto the Westinghouse Road exit ramp, Roberson said.

The minivan, traveling more than 60 mph, hit the car that Collins was going to get into, troopers said.

“He saw the gentleman come through the barricade. He was running and trying to get away, but he couldn’t make it in time,” Roberson said.

The minivan hit Collins so hard that it knocked him onto the windshield, troopers said. Both cars slid about 100 feet before stopping, troopers said.

However Roberson said the fire department car likely saved Collins’ life.

The driver of the minivan, William Blythe, of Charlotte, has been charged with careless and reckless driving. Blythe told investigators he thought it was a routine traffic stop and never saw the barricade, troopers said.

Blythe, who said he was going to work at the time, wasn’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol, troopers said.

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