Cousin says Sandy Hook principal Hochsprung was devoted to children
Tim Beamer believes his cousin, Dawn Hochsprung, died while trying to save the children at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
“We couldn't imagine her doing anything else,” Beamer, 43, of West View said Sunday.
Newtown officials say Hochsprung, the principal at Sandy Hook, died when she lunged at the gunman who fatally shot her and 26 others, including 20 children, on Friday.
“Teachers, in general, are very special people,” he said. “To do that for a living takes a very unique individual. You're taking care of other people's children, and children are the most valuable resource on the face of the planet.
“Dawn understood the weight of that responsibility and devoted her life to making sure children in her care were taken care of to the absolute best of her ability.”
Beamer's mother and Hochsprung's father are siblings. Hochsprung, 47, grew up in Northeastern Pennsylvania and moved to Connecticut. She had two daughters from a previous marriage and three stepchildren.
Beamer, who is married and has a daughter, said he saw his cousin about once a year.
“When we did get together, she would question me about my kid, my brother's kids,” he said. “Her No. 1 concern in life was what was going on with the children.”
Beamer said he had not been to Sandy Hook Elementary but has visited that area.
“It's not an area where you would expect something like this to happen. It would be like if it happened in Fox Chapel,” he said.
He heard about the shootings on Friday morning and sent his cousin a message on Facebook. She did not respond. As news of the event poured in that afternoon, the reality of the killings finally hit him.
“To say that I was shocked would be an extraordinary understatement,” he said. “To not hear back from her has been very difficult for me.”
Beamer said the tragedy has shaken him and his family. He hopes he'll be able to take time off work from his job in information technology to attend his cousin's funeral.
“This is one of those things you never expect to happen to anyone you know, let alone to someone in your family. It's been a trying time for all of us.”
His family gathered on Sunday in his parents' Murrysville home to comfort one another. He doesn't believe there's a way to make sense of his cousin's death.
“If I was to have any message to anybody it is, if you are parent, if you have children, pay attention to them,” he said. “Pay attention to what they're doing, listen to what they're saying, ask questions about what's going on in their life.
“If you are a parent, be a parent.”
Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- U.S., Cuba patching torn relations with historic accord
- Study: At least 786 child abuse victims died despite being on protective services’ radar
- $1.5B more a year — from fees tacked onto phone bills — earmarked for faster Internet
- Republican lawmakers vow to block confirmation of any potential ambassador to Cuba
- Fracking essentially banned in N.Y.
- Lifting limits on Cuba a boon for U.S.
- End ‘mindless’ military spending caps, Aerospace Industries Association says
- Use of U.S. steel to fix Alaska terminal causes rift with Canada
- Castle doctrine doesn’t hold up in Montana murder case
- Warren’s hangups over trade agenda threaten party ties
- Conn. dentist’s license suspended over death