Autistic Boy’s Death Prompts Fed Tracking Plan

NEW YORK (AP) -

Following the death of an autistic teenager who walked away from his Queens school last year, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday it will fund voluntary tracking devices for children with autism or other conditions putting them at risk of fleeing caregivers.

The family of Avonte Oquendo and New York Senator Charles Schumer had called last weekend for legislation to provide GPS tracking devices for autistic children and others with a tendency to bolt from parents or caregivers. On Wednesday, Schumer and the Justice Department said existing grant funds would be used.

Avonte’s disappearance from his Queens school on Oct. 4 triggered a massive search. The 14-year-old’s remains were found in the East River earlier this month, miles away from where he was last seen. The cause of death remains under investigation.

Schumer said the federal government already funds devices to track seniors with Alzheimer’s and the Department of Justice will now allow for grant funds to include children with autism spectrum disorder.

The program will be voluntary for parents.