Former police officer arrested in deadly hit and run

Gregory Burns (Source: Columbus Police Department)
Gregory Burns (Source: Columbus Police Department)

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) – Over the past year, Matthew Collins Jr. has found himself asking the same question again and again- Why? Why, if someone accidentally hit his 24-year-old son, James, would they drive off?

The former Marine and graduate of Shaw High School was hit and killed on Buena Vista Road in June of 2009. He was riding his skateboard home from the store.

At the time, WTVM reported pieces of the car's headlight was left behind and now, police say the evidence is a match to 38-year-old Gregory Burns' car.

Burns is the director of human resources at the West Central Georgia Regional Hospital, a mental health facility on Schatulga Road in Columbus. But what shocks the victim's father the most is that he used to be a Columbus Police officer.

"Why would he actually just hit him and just leave the scene of a crime? I don't get it. He probably could have gotten help there quicker and assisted him a lot faster because from what I've found out, my son actually laid there 30, 40 minutes before someone came. It broke his legs and broke some of his ribs which killed him because it punctured his lung," Collins said.

Officials say once they found Burns' SUV, they turned it over to the state crime lab and it was a positive match to the car that claimed James Collins' life.

Burns was granted bond Friday on a slew of charges, including homicide by vehicle and insurance fraud.

"I feel sorry for what his family is about to go through but the way I'm looking at it now, it's minor compared to the loss we suffered. He left a son, I lost a son and everybody is lost in a way. At least they're able to go visit him and he's still above ground, I'll put it that way," the victim's father added.

James Collins leaves behind a two year old son. His father says he was a helicopter mechanic for the Marines and completed two tours in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Gregory Burns has posted bond and is out of jail.

According to the clerk's office, a lawyer has not yet filed on his behalf.

We are told it has been more than ten years since Burns served as a police officer.