Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has proposed a bill that would provide GPS tracking devices for autistic children and their families. “Avonte’s Law,” as its called, is named after 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo, who ran away from his Queens, N.Y., school in early October last year and was recently found dead in the East River.
The law would provide for $10 million to pay for the devices that could be worn as a bracelet, in a wallet or even sewed into clothing. Oquendo’s body was found 11 miles away from the school he disappeared from, but police have not released any info as to how far the teen may have wandered in that time.
Around half of autistic children are prone to wandering, the Associated Press says. One out of every 88 children in the United States is affected by autism spectrum disorder -- that is 36,500 out of every 4 million children born each year. About 90 percent of wandering deaths recently have been due to drowning.
The devices cost around $85 each with some minimal upkeep fees. Schumer cited successful systems that are used to track Alzheimer’s sufferers in his proposal. In the program he cited, the devices alert police when a wearer leaves an area they are supposed to be in.
Avonte Oquendo’s funeral was held Saturday in New York and was attended by more than 200 mourners. Investigators still have not concluded the cause and manner of Oquendo’s death. His family plans to sue the city, and the family's lawyer, David Perecman, made a list of mistakes he says played into the boy’s disappearance.