Lt. Harry Collins saw a lot in 30 years as a local police officer. But one case stands out among the others.
He was the first officer on scene at the Ramada Rolling Green Hotel off Route 133 in 1993 where three brothers, tourists visiting from New York City, drowned in the hotel pool.
“They stepped into the pool and couldn’t swim,” said Collins, 56, who retired on Tuesday. “One of the kids had rolled up his pant leg before going in the pool. But the water was 6 or 7 feet deep.”
Two of the brothers — 16-year-old twins — died at the scene. The third, age 13, died the next day at a Boston hospital.
The case drew national media attention, and the family filed a lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed. But changes were made in its wake, including the presence of heavy, metal fences now required around all hotel pools, Collins said.
It may be the most memorable, but it was just one of many cases over the years in Collins’ career, including 18 years as a patrolman, six years as a sergeant and another six as a lieutenant. He was vice president of the superior officers’ union as well.
Last week, Collins’ colleagues held a going-away party for him at the Chateau in Andover, inviting his wife, Christine, and other friends and family members. It was a complete surprise.
“He will be missed,” said Sgt. Pat Keefe, recently appointed as the new chief of the department. “One thing about Harry, he always seemed to be in a pretty good mood.”
Lt. Lee Britton, who worked with Collins on the night shift when they first started together 30 years ago, said he always looked forward to coming in to work when they were partners.
“He’s very energetic,” Britton said. Even as a lieutenant, which is primarily a desk job, he liked to get out of the office and ride around town for a couple of hours a day to see what was going on and “back up the guys on calls.”