East Haven Driver from Fiery Crash at Gas Station Dies

Mother vows to fight for better mental health treatment in memory of her son, Daniel Kelson.

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    NBCConnecticut.com
    Daniel Kelson, 23, died after his car caught fire and crashed at an East Haven gas station.

    The East Haven man whose car caught fire and crashed at a gas station in town on Saturday died in the hopital over the weekend.

    The mother of driver Daniel Kelson, 23, said that her son suffered from mental health issues for years and that it might have been a factor in what transpired.

    “He had a propane tank in his car, and I believe he just lit the gas and thought the propane would just blow up, and he didn't want to survive,” Judy Murray, Daniel Kelson’s mother, said Tuesday.

    When Kelson's Mitsubishi Gallant crashed into a pole at the Hess Gas Station on Frontage Road in East Haven Saturday, he was already on fire, according to firefighters. Investigators found and seized a propane tank, a gas can and a lighter in his car as evidence.

    Kelson was seriously injured and had burns all over his body, according to East Haven Fire Chief Doug Jackson. He was transferred from Yale-New Haven Hospital to Bridgeport Hospital's burn unit.

    Murray said that Kelson heard voices in his head that tormented him.

    “He would sit there, so angry and scared, and tell me he heard voices in his head telling him to kill himself, while he was awake, while he was asleep, 24/7,” said Murray.

    Murray says her son was in hospital just a week before the crash, but that she's had a hard time getting him the help he needed. Because he was over 18, only he could request help.

    “He didn't want to go to the hospital. He wasn't stupid, he was bright as could be, and he was tortured every single day for way too long,” said Murray.

    After what happened to her son, Murray said something has to change in the system. She vows to fight for that change so no mother has to go through what she is going through and no person has to go through the agony her son went through.

    “I couldn't get him help. I couldn't quiet the voices because I couldn't get him the help he needed," Murray said. "That's the promise I made to him on his death bed, and I just all night whispered in his ear, and I know he heard me, and I said, I will never stop fighting for you."

    A vigil is scheduled for Kelson at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at West Haven Beach boardwalk on Oak Street. His mother will read a eulogy, and they will release butterflies and lanterns into the air. Murray says the beach was Kelson’s favorite place and he visited it every day to feed the birds.

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