NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)– Senator Chuck Schumer is pushing for a bill that would fund law enforcement agencies to track people with autism in case they wander into dangerous situations.
Schumer is calling the bill Avonte’s Law, named after Avonte Oquendo, WCBS 880’s Stephanie Colombini reported. In 2013, the autistic 14-year-old ran off from his school in Queens and was found dead in a river months later. A law passed after his death requiring schools to install audible door alarms.
“What Avonte’s Law would do would be to put on any child that has autism a bracelet, a devise where they could be tracked with GPS,” Schumer said.
Law enforcement agencies would do the tracking, and wearing the device would be voluntary. Schumer said the need for legislation was heightened last week, when another teenage boy with autism wandered into the ocean at Coney Island.
Somehow the nonverbal autistic 14-year-old managed to walk right out of P.S. 721 on Avenue X in Coney Island just before 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon during a weekend program for special needs students.
“An autistic boy should not be allowed to walk out of school just like that without anyone watching over them because it’s very dangerous,” Tatyana Tub, a Sheepshead Bay resident, told CBS2’s Brian Conybeare.
The Department of Education released a statement Sunday blaming a community-based organization that runs the program.
“This is a deeply alarming incident. Nothing is more important than the safety of all students and staff. We are working closely with the organization that hosted the event and the NYPD to investigate this incident,” it said in a statement.
Police got a strange call about a naked male on the beach near West 12th Street in Coney Island about an hour and a half after the boy disappeared.
When police got to the boardwalk the boy, who’s name hasn’t been released, in the ocean up to his waist refusing to come out so they went into the water and got him.
City Councilmember Mark Treyger says door alarms required under Avonte’s Law should have prevented this.
The DOE said the alarms at P.S 721 did go off Saturday, but no one knows why the boy was still able to wander so far.
“This is happening over and over and over again. You would think by now we would be able to get this right,” Treyger said.
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