Local man dies in collision with truck

Josh Collins (Provided photo — Onondaga Historical Society)

SARANAC LAKE — A Saranac Lake man died Wednesday morning after colliding with a garbage truck while riding his bicycle on Lake Street at Petrova Avenue.

Josh Collins, 40, was a devoted son, history buff, newspaper deliveryman for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and a Saranac Lake native.

As firefighters from the Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department directed traffic, emergency medical staff with the Saranac Lake Volunteer Rescue Squad performed CPR and tried to stabilize Collins after the collision. He was later pronounced dead. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday, according to Franklin County Coroner Ron Keough.

The identity and condition of the Casella truck driver were not immediately clear Wednesday. The Saranac Lake Police Department did not respond to requests for information.

Janice Collins pins the Eagle Scout award on the shirt of her son Josh Collins on Feb. 28, 1998, during a Boy Scout Troop 12 ceremony at the Bloomingdale Volunteer Fire Department. (Enterprise photo — Rob Fountain)

Saranac Lake native

Collins attended Saranac Lake schools and was active in local youth groups, particularly Boy Scouts. His mother Janice pinned his Eagle Scout award on his shirt at a ceremony at the Bloomingdale firehouse on Feb. 28, 1998.

He was also involved in athletics. He was a member of the Adirondack Pride Physically Challenged Sports Team, and in 1994, his team traveled to Long Island to compete in the New York State Parks Games for the Physically Challenged. He clinched gold medals in the 400-meter, 800-meter and 50-meter freestyle, as well as a silver medal in shot put and discus.

Jimmy Williams, co-owner of the Bitters & Bones bar in Saranac Lake, met Collins while they were both in high school. Collins was a few grades below him.

“Josh was always Josh — a loving, giggly, happy guy,” he said. “Back in the day when we had phone books, he knew the phone book by memory. If you said any student’s name, he could recite their phone number. It was pretty awesome as a kid, to see that.”

Williams remembers Collins as a kid who never teased anyone else, and someone who was always willing to help out. He loved learning.

Williams moved out of the area for a while, but when he returned to Saranac Lake and opened the bar, Collins was his newspaper delivery man. Williams remembers him coming into the bar late at night to drop off the paper, fresh off the press, and lingering to chat, especially to talk about the bar’s computer system.

“I just really can’t think of a nicer guy, who was local through and through,” Williams said, “and who would do anything to help someone out. Josh was a one-of-a-kind kid, to say the least.”

Encyclopedic knowledge

After graduating from Saranac Lake High School, Collins attended North Country Community College before completing his associate’s degree in computer information technology at Bryant & Stratton College. He worked at the New York State Fair in Syracuse for several years before moving back to Saranac Lake.

Collins had an encyclopedic knowledge in many specific fields. If you told him where you lived, he could quickly tell you your five-digit ZIP code and three-digit phone area code, whether you lived in Vermontville, Rochester or New Jersey. He even knew the history of when certain area and ZIP codes were split up or added.

He had a love for knowledge about U.S. presidents, sharing anecdotes, statistics and pop culture references about any of the 45 presidents at any opportunity. He devoured any documentary, book or historical fiction about these leaders he could find.

He was also well-versed in local history, new and old. He volunteered at the Onondaga Historical Association in Syracuse for many years.

“He was very helpful,” said Sarah Kozma, a research specialist at the historical association. “He would help with pretty much anything that needed to be done. He helped with office work, he helped with archive stuff, exhibits.”

Collins also helped with membership renewals for the association and coordinated some of their mail.

“Josh was always eager to help,” Kozma said. “He would go out of his way to help you accomplish something. Josh was a nice guy. He always did his best.”

Enterprise delivery

In his job as a newspaper deliveryman, Collins could often be seen riding his bicycle around the village late at night with an old-fashioned Enterprise carrier bag slung around his chest, delivering freshly printed copies of the paper and striking up conversations with everyone he knew.

Growing up, he delivered copies of the paper with his mother, Janice. After he moved back to Saranac Lake, he was hired as a newspaper deliveryman again. He has been working at the Enterprise on his own for about a year.

“It is with sorrow to hear the news of the tragic death of our longtime route carrier Josh Collins,” said Enterprise Publisher Cathy Moore. “It’s hard to imagine no longer seeing this vibrant young man coming into our office spreading his good cheer. I’m sure many of his customers also experienced his good-hearted nature as he delivered the newspapers to the DeChantel Apartments and around downtown Saranac Lake.

“Josh was always smiling and joking with everyone when he would visit our office,” she added. “He was always curious and would come in the early morning hours to watch the press and mailroom crew work. He would impress them with his ability to remember the numbers of all the mail routes among his many talents. The staff at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise will deeply miss Josh and will always remember him fondly in our hearts. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family and friends.”

(Correction: In an earlier version of this article, the first sentence said Collins was “struck by” the garbage truck. Village police later said they are not ready to issue a conclusion on what struck what in the collision.)


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today