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Somers Point man's near-fatal crash gives him new view of Apple watch

  • Feature

Ronald Kollman was just about done with his Apple watch earlier this month.

Now, the Somers Point man is crediting it with helping save his life.

He was tired of it always reminding him of his workouts.

"This watch won't leave me the hell alone," he complained, saying he was going to trade it in for a Timex.

Then, he was on his way to his doctor in Cherry Hill on March 18, when he suddenly felt like his car "was being vacuumed off the road."

He doesn't remember seeing the box truck that he wound up trapped under on the left side.

Kollman remembers bracing as the steering wheel came toward him with no airbags deployed, he told BreakingAC. 

Then, nothing.

He came to with his watch ringing.

"I think I surprised everybody when I woke up," he said.

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Kollman was crushed inside on the left side of his vehicle, his ankle trapped with a compound fracture, bleeding from his head and lots of pain.

Calling his watch was his older son, Ronnie Jr. His younger son, Sgt. Ben Kollman, was heading to the scene.

The watch notified the two men and their mother — Ronald Kollman's emergency contacts — that he had been in an accident. It even sent them a map of where he was on Route 73 in Winslow Township.

Sgt. Kollman got the alert and called his mother to ask where his father was. That's when she checked her phone and realized her husband had crashed on his way to the doctor.

The Egg Harbor Township police sergeant asked his captain if he could head to the scene.

"Imagine looking up your son, who is a damn good cop and a damn good kid," the Kollman patriarch said. "He was so stiff-faced. I kept saying, 'I'm OK. I'm OK.'"

But Sgt. Kollman is a crash investigator. He knew the risk once his father was freed from the wreckage, where his pinned ankle was temporarily stopping what would be life-threatening bleeding.

He was holding in his feelings as he watched rescue workers carefully work to extract his father. As an officer from an outside agency, he was merely a spectator here.

"He sees this every day," the elder Kollman said. 

The sergeant would later tell his father: "This is a death accident. People don’t walk away from this accident."

Ronald Kollman is not doing any walking these days, but he is home after two surgeries within four days at Cooper Health System. 

"I'm not in any pain," he said this weekend.

The doctors think he may be able to start putting pressure on it with a walker within a couple of weeks.

Kollman credits his Apple watch for that too. 

The watch that nags him about trending down when he misses a workout helped keep the 69-year-old in good enough shape to make it through the destruction of his previously replaced left hip, and a broken pelvis.

There was also some luck mixed in as well.

The airbags did not deploy, which he believes kept him from possible death. The car also was "harpooned" in three spots on the left side, but nothing hit any of Kollman's vital organs.

The crash did put a crimp in the plans he and his wife, Charmaine, who marked their 50th wedding anniversary Saturday. 

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The Pleasantville High School sweethearts married at 19, and are now happily grandparents.

But the family still has each other. And they were able to be quickly be by his side because of his Apple watch, says Kollman, who posted a message to Facebook telling everyone with the watch to use the emergency contact feature. He's even taken calls to direct friends on how to do it.

By the way, he notes, the watch doesn't have a scratch on it. 

"I’m just so happy my family was able to be right there for me," Kollman said. "At least they got the news immediately.

"I'm one of the luckiest guys on Earth."

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author

Lynda Cohen

Lynda Cohen founded BreakingAC after working as a local newspaper reporter for more than two decades. She is an NJPA award-winner and was a Stories of Atlantic City fellow.

Monday, April 15, 2024
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