Posted: Feb. 26, 2004
FORMER COUNTY EXECUTIVE
RICK COLLINS FOUND HURT
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
Richard T. Collins, once a
rising Republican star elected New Castle County executive and state
auditor, was found bleeding and apparently beaten last Friday
morning in front of his Rehoboth Beach home in a mysterious mishap
that has the state police investigating.
Collins, 58, still was being
treated Thursday for a severe head injury at Christiana Hospital
near Newark, where he was taken after initially being examined at
the Beebe Medical Center's emergency room in Lewes, according to
Cpl. Jeff Oldham, the state police's public information officer for
Kent and Sussex counties.
Police went to Collins'
house near the Rehoboth Beach Country Club after a passer-by spotted
him lying by his front steps at about 7 a.m. Friday, Oldham said.
What happened to Collins is
unknown. Although he told police he fell down the steps, some of his
friends interviewed by Delaware Grapevine say it appeared he was
beaten up, leaving blood in his car and inside his house, which was
State police are
investigating whether there was an assault. "His statements to the
police have been that he fell down," Oldham said. "We obviously
don't know if that's the truth."
Collins' friends say he has
been scuffling through life in recent years, two decades after he
left public office and became a banker, a career he followed until
1999. It was a sharp contrast to what had come before.
Collins had some glamour to
him when he entered politics in 1974, running for state auditor at
28 years old when the voters were looking for youth and freshness to
wash away the taint of Watergate, the scandal that brought down
President Richard M. Nixon.
A Sussex County native from
Bethel, Collins ran for office as a a University of Delaware
graduate and Vietnam War veteran awarded a Bronze Star in the army
in 1969. He won three elections for state auditor when the post
carried a two-year term.
Collins in the 1970s often
was regarded as the Republican side of a handsome pair of political
bookends opposite Thomas R. Carper, the Democratic side who was 29
when he was elected state treasurer in 1976 and went on to be a
congressman, governor and senator.
Collins was elected New
Castle County executive in 1980 and participated in one of the
landmark events in Delaware's political and economic history,
working with Republican Gov. Pierre S. du Pont and Wilmington
Democratic Mayor William T. McLaughlin on the Financial Center
Development Act, the 1981 legislation that brought the banks here.
When Collins' four-year term
was up, he switched to private life, joining Citibank Delaware, one
of the banks drawn to the state by the new law. He was a top
executive there until stepping away five years ago.
He settled in Rehoboth
Beach, where he was found Friday, fallen far from where he once was.
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