NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Sen. Charles Schumer says new legislation proposed in the name of Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old New York City boy who disappeared from his school and was found dead three months later, would fund voluntary tracking devices for children who have autism.
Schumer (D-N.Y.), accompanied by Avonte’s mother and grandmother, Sunday to announce “Avonte’s Law.” The legislation would create a program that provides tracking devices and expands support services for families with autistic children.
Schumer says it would be similar to a federal program that tracks seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease. The $10 million in funds would go to police departments, which would hand out the devices to parents who request them.
“It will help put parents at ease, save precious lives,” Schumer told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “Avonte’s Law will allow his memory to live on while helping to prevent more children with autism from going missing.
“The technology will allow parents of all children with autism, no matter how much or how little money they have, to enjoy the benfits of a high-tech solution to an age-old problem.”
Avonte’s mother and grandmother weren’t ready to speak to reporters, but their lawyer, David Perecman, told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller that a tracking system would be a fitting tribute to the teen.
“The goal today, because we can’t go back in time, is to make sure … never again,” Perecman said. “And this will help.”
Avonte walked away from his Queens school in October. His body was found in the East River earlier this month. Investigators are still trying to determine how he died.
About 200 mourners gathered at a Manhattan church Saturday for Avonte’s funeral.
“We in pain,” Avonte’s cousin Kirk Patrick said tearfully. “We just need everybody’s help. We in pain right now. Stay with us and help us.”
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