Man turns tragedy into action by donating carbon monoxide detectors to Minnesota food shelf

Neighborhood Plumbing and Heating donated boxes of carbon monoxide detectors to the Family Pathways Food Shelf.

A Chisago County man is trying to save lives and families. He and his company are donating carbon monoxide detectors to a local food shelf network. It’s an effort to try and prevent any more carbon monoxide deaths in the state.    

William Sherk and his co-workers at Neighborhood Plumbing and Heating donated boxes of carbon monoxide detectors to the Family Pathways Food Shelf in North Branch.

“We do have about 14 deaths a year that happen here in Minnesota, and then thousands and thousands who are poisoned that go unreported,” said Sherk.  

All of which is preventable.

Overall, the trend for CO deaths in Minnesota is dropping, but it’s still taking a terrible toll. Data from the Minnesota Department of Health shows 104 Minnesotans have lost their lives from carbon monoxide poisoning in the past 10 years.

For Sherk, this is personal.

“He was my best friend. I just miss him so bad,” he said. “And they discovered him dead one day, is what had happened.”

His son Keith was just 21. His cause of death was undetermined, but his family always suspected carbon monoxide.

“We never did find out what happened with my son, but I just had to get involved trying to save a family from going through a tragedy that we went through,” he said.

That’s where Family Pathways comes in.  

“This is a special donation for a few reasons,” said Sonia Palmer, the director of development for Family Pathways.

Family Pathways have nine food shelves in eastern Minnesota that help families achieve food security. The CO detectors will provide life security.

“It prevents crisis, which is what we do,” said Palmer. “And again, it sends a message that your lives are important.” 

And important enough to keep them safe.

“That’s what we’re trying to do is get the word out there,” said Sherk. “Have somebody go ahead and check and make sure to tell a family friend and neighbor. You just might save a life.”  

Family Pathways will distribute those CO detectors to all nine of its food shelves in eastern Minnesota and northeastern Minnesota. State law requires every single-family home in Minnesota to have carbon monoxide detector.