Homeless veteran leaves his mark on Kern County

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A homeless veteran who turned to God during a difficult time is leaving his mark on Kern County.

Take a drive on Highway 58 and just off of the Weedpatch Highway exit you will see the word Jesus carved into a sump.

Navy veteran Daryl Collins dedicated much of his life to that sign.

“He loved God, he loved that field and that sump,” said John Antonucci, a friend of Collins.

“When I see that sign it just blesses my heart,” said Tehachapi resident Dolores Barton.

Collins used his fingernails and a small tool to create the sign. Then, one pebble at a time, he outlined the name of Jesus just a few feet from the sump he called home.

“He would take a tool and dig a trench around each letter because he said the rain would wash it away so he made a path all around each letter,” explained Jack Dufur.

Dufur told 23ABC Collins made the sign to ask for forgiveness and show his love for Jesus Christ which is why the letters are so big.

"He said I had to make them big enough. I don't think Jesus can see this from up there so I'm going to make them large."

Collins spent years carefully tending to the sign until one day it all stopped.  In September, Collins had a heart attack at a Burger King he usually hangs out at.

Burger King employee Juanita Ruano called 911. Collins died, but you'll still find his friends keeping his roadside passion clean.

"Daryl was just a bum, but he was a likable bum,” said Dufur.

Collins and several other veterans were honored at the Bakersfield National Cemetery Thursday afternoon.

It was a service to remember a veteran, and those who knew him won’t soon forget because a piece of him lives on in the Jesus sign.

"I love that sign and I love that man," said Barton.

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