All Blacks rugby star Jerry Collins spent his last moments heroically trying to save his 10-week-old daughter Ayla from the car crash that killed both him and and his wife Alana. So say investigators, who believe the New Zealand sports star threw his body over his baby to shield her from the full force of the impact.
It seems that new dad Jerry would have had just had seconds to register that the family car was about to collide with a bus. And, from witness reports and evidence of the way his body was found, it's clear all Jerry could think about was saving his daughter's life – above his own.
The crash that killed both Jerry and Alana happened last month in France, where Jerry was playing for French club Narbonne. It's thought Jerry was in the back seat next to their baby, and Alana was driving – and fell asleep at the wheel.
Thanks to her dying dad's brave actions, Ayla survived the crash and was rescued from the wreckage. She spent a month recovering in a Montpellier hospital in France, where she had surgery for bleeding on the brain, but has now been discharged into the care of her Canadian grandparents.
Medics say little Ayla will have 'ongoing disabilities' but her auntie Nora Madill has told the New Zealand press that she's a ‘miracle’. "Ayla's a big baby and a good eater," Nora told the Dominion Post. "She's a really good sleeper at night and she's a happy baby. She continues to be a little fighter. She truly is a miracle to us."
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And Jerry's international teammates continue to be touchingly supportive of his little daughter. All Blacks prop Neemia Tialata recently posted this lovely picture of him feeding Ayla in the shirt worn by her dad when he played for top New Zealand team, Hurricanes: "Ayla in her Daddy's @Hurricanesrugby jersey ready for #SuperRugbyFinal we bleed #BLACKandYELLOW good luck brothers!" he tweeted.
Also, a number of fans of the All Blacks star have been touched enough by the tragic story to set up funds to raise money for the Ayla – including one entrepreneur who has already managed to raise $250,000.
Pics: Instagram & Twitter
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