CBS2-Header-Logo WFAN 1010WINS WCBS tiny WLNYLogo

News

Justice Department To Fund ‘Avonte’s Law’ Proposal To Offer Tracking Devices For Autistic Kids

View Comments
Avonte Oquendo had been missing since Oct. 4, 2013. The medical examiner's office confirmed on Jan. 21, 2014 that remains found along the East River are a DNA match. (credit: Handout)

Avonte Oquendo had been missing since Oct. 4, 2013. The medical examiner’s office confirmed on Jan. 21, 2014 that remains found along the East River are a DNA match. (credit: Handout)

CBS New York (con't)

Affordable Care Act Updates: CBSNewYork.com/ACA

Health News & Information: CBSNewYork.com/Health

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)Sen. Charles Schumer’s proposed “Avonte’s Law” will become reality thanks to funding from the federal government.

The U.S. Department of Justice says it will fund voluntary tracking devices for children with autism or other conditions that put them at risk for fleeing their caregivers.

Schumer announced the agreement Wednesday. It comes after the remains of autistic teenager Avonte Oquendo, 14, were found in the East River.

Schumer on Sunday called for legislation to provide GPS tracking devices for autistic children and others with a tendency to bolt from parents or caregivers.

The senator said it would be similar to a federal program that tracks seniors who have Alzheimer’s disease.

Schumer’s legislation was to have been called “Avonte’s Law.”

“It will help put parents at ease, save precious lives,” Schumer told reporters Sunday. “Avonte’s Law will allow his memory to live on while helping to prevent more children with autism from going missing.”

The senator said the Department of Justice has agreed to allow existing grant funds to be used for the voluntary devices. The justice department confirmed the agreement.

Liz Feld, president of Autism Speaks, said the consequences as seen in Avonte’s case can be tragic.

“There have been 42 deaths, just since 2011, from wandering,” she told WCBS 880′s Marla Diamond.

Sensory issues, Feld said, could cause people with autism to tear off the bracelets.

“The tracking devices are one important step,” Feld said. “We need a full comprehensive strategy to address the issue of wandering.”

Avonte was last seen alive walking out of his Long Island City school on Oct. 4. That set off a massive search effort involving police and volunteers.

Remains found washed ashore earlier this month and found to be a DNA match to Avonte.

A funeral for the teen was held Saturday. Hundreds of people turned out.

You May Also Be Interested In These Stories


(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
View Comments