Lawmakers at the New York Capitol are calling for action after an autistic student in Rochester wandered away from school. He was eventually found drowned in the Genesee River.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara has consistently been on the forefront of making New York safer for those with autism.
Now, after the death of 14-year-old Trevyan Rowe, he’s calling for even more change.
“I’m thinking about my son Michael who is 16 right now. He lives with autism and he tends to wander.”
Police in Rochester say Trevyan got off the bus at school but never made it to class despite teachers marking his attendance as “present.” Something Santabarbara says is unacceptable.
“If my child is not at school I want to know.”
He’s now checking with schools and the New York Education Department to determine if attendance policies need to change statewide.
“If there’s legislation that’s needed I want to take it up this year I want to take it up right now in this session because if it’s something that can happen there it can happen anywhere.”
Santabarbara says that’s step one. Step two is getting Project Lifesaver fully funded across the state.
“My son would not be able to tell a person where he lives or where he’s from or sometimes even his name.”
It’s a simple bracelet that allows someone who is apt to wander to be tracked in the case of an emergency.
Santabarbara says these things could have saved Trevyan’s life.
“It’s just unacceptable that something like this could happen. Something that could have been avoided if these steps had been taken.”
He’s heartbroken that Trevyan’s family now has to move forward through this tragedy. He says he’s more dedicated than ever to the cause.
“We also have to see if we can make changes to stop this from ever happening again.”
Project Lifesaver is already in use in several counties in the Capital Region.
The assemblyman has a bill right now that calls for the state budget to fund the program statewide.
In a statement Thursday, the New York State Education Department said it would review school safety policies with the district in the wake of Trevyan’s death.
The city school district will also discuss the incident at a board meeting Thursday night.