Vigil for East Haven's Daniel Kelson Raises Awareness About Mental Illness

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCConnecticut.com
    People gather to pay respects at a vigil for Daniel Kelson, who died in a fiery crash at an East Haven gas station over the weekend.

    Dozens of friends and family joined a mother's fight against mental illness Wednesday at a vigil who her son who set himself on fire and crashed into an East Haven gas station last weekend.

    Daniel Kelson's vigil was held at a boardwalk in West Haven where his mother, Judy Murray said he was happiest. She said it was his only escape from a tormented life.

    Daniel was diagnosed with psychosis which is what made him hear the voices that his mother said he believed were telling him to take his life.

    Even though he might have fought his demons it was clear people tried to help him by giving Daniel as much love as possible.

    "It's just sad that it has to take a tragedy for people to come together and that was his battle," said Murray, who is determined to take up the battle for improvements in mental health care after her son lost his over the weekend. "They're gathered here because they love Dan."

    Investigators told NBC Connecticut that Kelson's car was already on fire when it crashed into a pole at this East Haven gas station. Murray said he had a propane tank in his car. She spoke to him 15 minutes before he took his own life.

    "He was hearing voices because I could see it on his face," said Murray.

    Marissa Lieto, who described herself as Daniel's best friend, also tried to help.

    "We knew him in and out and I thought I could save him," she said.

    But ultimately it was too late to save him. Kelson was in the hospital just a week before the crash, but his mother says it was difficult for him to get the help he needed. Because he was over 18 only he could request help. Murray says the system has to do better.

    Friends described his free flying spirit as they held candles and released lanterns from the beach Daniel found so much comfort in

    "Just look around you you can see how many people he touched," Lieto said.

    "Now you are free Dan to fly with the birds. Rest in peace we love," his mother said closing out the service.

    She vows to continue her fight for mental health reform on behalf of her son.