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Newtown widower seeks school mental health reform

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 10, 2013 at 2:46 pm •  Published: February 10, 2013

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The school psychologist at Sandy Hook Elementary, Mary Sherlach, would often come home frustrated at an overwhelming workload due to budget cuts and paperwork from mounting regulations, her widower says.

In the wake of her death in the December shooting at the Newtown school, Bill Sherlach is dedicating himself to raising money for agencies that provide mental health services to young people. He said in an interview that he has no idea whether a lack of mental health care contributed to the shooting, but he believes more services could help prevent future massacres.

"If we can keep one potential shooter from getting to the point where this one got to, all that money would be worth it," he said.

Sherlach, who had worked at Sandy Hook for 18 years, was one of six adults killed in the massacre that also claimed the lives of 20 first-graders. Bill Sherlach said he doesn't know whether she knew or treated Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old gunman, who attended Sandy Hook as a child.

Mary Sherlach was killed when she confronted Lanza in the school hallway after he entered the building. Her husband said he believes she knew that delaying him, even for a few seconds, would save lives.

He said he raced to get to the school from his office in Fairfield after he heard reports of a shooting at the school.

"I'm screaming up the highway going 85 miles per hour, and as I'm going up there, I know she's in the middle of it, whatever it is I know she's in the middle of it," he said. "That's just the way she is."

He said he wants to dedicate himself to the issue of young people's mental health to honor his wife. He is working with The Fairfield County Community Foundation to raise money for agencies that provide mental health services to children and young teens.

He said his wife felt like there were not enough resources in the field.

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