I WILL BE UPDATING ALL OF THE CHILDREN LOST TO WANDERING IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS. IF YOU HAVE A PERSONAL STORY YOU WANT TO SHARE, PLEASE CONTACT ME AT firstname.lastname@example.org . I wish I could say that I don't have many names to add, but the truth is there are about thirty. I apologize for waiting this long to update the site, but I had to step back and take a breath. Each one feels like I just lost Mason all over again, but I truly feel that it is our honor and duty to keep them alive any way that we can.
My son, Mason, was born on July 07, 2005. He was brilliant, beautiful and full of joy. He lit up our world and was the center of our universe. Sometimes he would break out into this glorious laughter, and even though you couldn't figure out what he was laughing at, you would join in because the sound of it touched your soul and filled it with joy.
He was the most incredible child I have ever known. He loved life and life seemed to love him. He overcame more obstacles in his life than many adults ever have to even contemplate and he did it with a smile on his face and laughter in his heart.
On July 27th, 2010, he escaped from our home out of a partially opened window, went a short distance across the street to a neighbor's retention pond and drowned. Two days later, his heart slowly stopped beating and he died. As I stood weeping over my son's body, I promised him that I would make sure that the world knew his face, knew his name and understood what we lost when we lost our wondrous son. I promised my friends and family that I would not let my son's life be in vain. Instead, I would do everything in my power to try and prevent tragedies like the death of Mason from ever happening again.
Just days after we said our goodbyes to our son, my family and I began the Mason Allen Medlam Foundation for Autism safety to raise awareness on wandering, try to prevent wandering, and protect those who are prone to wander. We have come a long way, but before I tell you what we've accomplished, I want to share a few more of the children that we couldn't save so you can understand that this is not just my mission and my son.
JAMES DELOREY-DECEMBER 2009
A seven-year-old autistic boy who was found in the woods of Cape Breton on Monday has died in hospital.
James Delorey was found by a search and rescue team, suffering from hypothermia and found with a weak pulse after almost 48 hours lost in the woods in blizzard conditions near his home north of Sydney, N.S.
"It is with our deepest regret to advise you that James Delorey passed away at the IWK Health Centre early this morning," Jocelyn Vine, the vice-president of patient care for the IWK Health Centre in Halifax, told a press conference Tuesday morning.
Vine also read a statement from a member of the Delorey family, thanking everyone involved in the boy's care.
"It was amazing to see how everyone came together," Vine read. "It really kept my hopes alive. We will have more to say later after we've had some time."
The boy was flown to IWK Health Centre in Halifax, the largest children‚s hospital in the Maritimes, for treatment. Due to Delorey's weakened condition, it took medical workers a few hours to stabilize him before he could be moved from where he was found. A path also had to be cut in the thick bush to allow a LifeFlight helicopter to remove him from the scene.
Delorey had been missing from his home near South Bar, N.S., approximately 10 kilometers north of Sydney, N.S., since Saturday night when he went outside to play with his dog. The boy was not wearing a coat, hat or mittens.
Police say the dog wandered out of the woods Monday morning and a professional tracker managed to follow the dog's paw prints back into the woods.
Delorey was found shortly after wards by a search and rescue team, about one kilometer away from a command post that had been set up.
The search for the young boy was hampered by a winter storm which hit the area on Sunday and by frigid weather.
The temperature held at 3C for most of Saturday night but gusting wind dropped the mercury to 0C Sunday, grounding a rescue helicopter.
By Monday, the temperature dropped to -3C on the island.
More than 100 people and three aircraft were involved in the search.
Luke Selwyn -March 2010
SHE was his constant companion who helped him navigate the confusing world his autism had created.
So when Bonnie the dog finally came home alone and wet, Luke Selwyn’s parents knew something terrible had happened to their boy.
Police and volunteers had been searching the family’s property in Wilberforce, northwest of Sydney, for hours when Bonnie finally came home just before 11.30pm.
It would take police divers another hour to find the six-year-old’s body in the neighbour’s dam early yesterday.
It is believed the severely autistic boy, who could speak only a few words, had mistaken the muddy dam for a swimming pool.
“He had just started swimming classes and he was doing really well,” his aunt Leesha Cooke said yesterday. “He was being awarded gold stars.”
The classes were part of the intensive therapy his family had been committed to since he was diagnosed with autism.
While Luke barely spoke, therapy had helped him go from a boy who could not interact to one who would give you a cheeky little smile now and then, Ms Cooke said.
“Children with autism like what is familiar and they repeat things over and over again. The dam must have looked like the pool he was learning in and he just went for a swim.”
Luke’s parents Fiona and Tom Selwyn had spent everything they had on therapy for Luke and his four-year-old brother Jarrad, who also has a form of autism.
“My sister and her husband didn’t care that he didn’t talk, they didn’t care that he wasn’t perfect and while he took a lot of love from them he gave them a love that most parents take for granted,” Ms Cooke said.
She said the family’s loss was made worse as they spent all of his short life watching over him.
At the moment Luke’s nine-year-old sister Jessica blames herself for the tragedy.
While only in Year 4, Jessica has always been the self-appointed protector of her brothers and because Luke managed to sneak out while the family was burying her pet axolotl she felt it was her fault.
“I just miss my brother,” she said clutching a photo of her brother.
His aunt, however, sees Luke’s death somewhat differently.
“I want to get him back for them but now he is free, he is free from autism and he doesn’t have to suffer any more,” she said.
Aiden Bell-April 2010
The search for 3-year old Aiden Bell ended in tragedy when his lifeless body was found shortly after 1pm on Tuesday afternoon less than a mile from his grandparents home where he was reported to have been last seen near Osage, AR.
A National Park Service Employee found the body of the 3-year-old on the bank of Osage Creek. Hundreds of community volunteers and emergency rescue personnel gathered to search for Aiden after he wandered off from his grandparents home Monday afternoon.
Christian Dejons-April 2010
The Mirror Lakes subdivision has a golf course with heavily wooded areas.Dejons' parents told searchers the boy enjoyed the lake area of the subdivision and that he had a history of wandering, Cavitt said.
A frantic search turned tragic yesterday after an eight-year-old boy was found drowned in a pond between Jamestown Road and Potomac Drive, near the Spring Ridge condo complex.
Acting Somerset County Prosecutor A. Peter DeMarco Jr. said in a press release that Bernards Township Police responded to a 9-1-1 call at 2:26 p.m. on Sunday, June 27 reporting a missing child, Adlai Kugblenu of Potomac Drive.
"Responding officers spoke with the victim's father, Mr. Kugblenu, who stated that at approximately 2 p.m. he noticed his son was missing from the residence and immediately began to search for his son outside the residence and near the retention pond with negative results prior to contacting police," DeMarco said. "Officers immediately began a neighborhood canvass which included the retention pond located near the victim's residence with negative results."
The police called in a request for assistance after the failed initial search, according to DeMarco's report. Several neighboring police units, the Basking Ridge and Liberty Corner Fire and First Aid squads, the Somerset County Dive Team and other county search and rescue units responded to the scene.
"Divers from the Somerset County Dive Team subsequently located Adlai Kugblenu at the bottom of the pond near the floating aerator fountain, which was located near the center of the pond," DeMarco said. "Kugblenu was pronounced dead at the scene and a positive identification was subsequently made."
Kaliya Sullivan-June 2010
On Wednesday June 23, 2010 at 3:45 p.m. seven year old Kaliya Marie Sullivan was reported missing from her home in La Crosse. Only 45 minutes later, at 4:30 p.m., about two blocks from her home she was discovered in a neighbors swimming pool, unresponsive. Mrs. Sullivan had stated to police authorities that Kaliya was prone to wandering and had wandered before. Kaliya is the daughter of Anthony and Karie Sullivan. Kaliya’s father is in the U.S. Army and is currently overseas. There are no words that can ease this family’s pain.
My darling son, Mason Medlam-July 2010
We miss you every single day, Mason. Every single second of every single day.
Five-year-old Mason Medlam has died of his injuries after being pulled from a small pond near Colwich Tuesday.
A rosary will be held Friday night at 7:00, and his funeral service is scheduled for Saturday at 10:30. Both will take place at the Sacred Heart Church in Colwich.
His family has set up a fund to cover medical and funeral expenses. Donations can be sent to any Cessna Credit Union branch in the name of Kenneth Medlam, Mason's father.
News of Mason's death hits close to home for other families with children or adults with autism.
"Families with autism immediately connect because they understand exactly what this family is going through," said Connie Erbert, director of Heartspring's Autism Outreach program.
Erbert said drowning is one of the leading causes of death for both children and adults with autism, largely because they struggle to recognize the immediate dangers in their environments.
"That's a difference between a typical child and a child with autism," she said. "It's difficult for them to know that they might be in danger."
"You have to practice a lot of those things with children so they can actually better understand their environment and make better choices," she said.
Investigators say Mason's death is the result of a tragic accident. Authorities say he managed to sneak out of the house and was missing for only a few minutes before officials were contacted. Mason was found after a 20 minute search, lying in a pond a few hundred yards from his home.
Of those who responded to a recent survey conducted by the National Autism Association, 92% said their child was at risk of wandering.
Mason's mother released a statement this afternoon;
First of all, I would like to say thank you to everyone who took a moment out of their day to pray for Mason and our family.
This has been a horrific week for us. Our darling son left this world on Thursday, July 29th at 7:29 am. I don't know how to describe to any of you how terrible this day has been.
Mason was the most incredible son any mother could ask for. I remember the first time he was diagnosed, I thought my world had ended. I just couldn't imagine that there would be any true happiness after I learned he was disabled. Boy, was I wrong. Mason was a shining bundle of joy. He literally made life sparkle, and now that he is gone, the world is such a dark, dark place.
Thanks so much to the media, The Wichita Eagle, KSN and especially KAKE. You took a tragic situation and managed to bring this huge city together like a small town. It amazed me how incredibly close we felt to our community because of the kind coverage and earnest hopes for our child's recovery. I can not thank the media, the people of Wichita, or the surrounding areas enough. You have given us a little of the strength we'll need to go on.
If I could have one wish, other than to hold my son again, it would be that a tragedy like this never happens again. If you have a pond or a pool or even a decorative lake on your property, do the right thing and make it secure. Please don't let any other mother have to endure the pain and agony of losing a child. It is a burden no one should have to bear.
Zachary Clark-August 2010
Zachary Clark, 5, was found lifeless in a pond Aug. 19 after he was reported missing, according to a news release from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputies received a call around 12:30 p.m. about the missing boy and responded to the 200 block of South Charleston Avenue, near South Houghton and East Sahuarita roads.
They searched the area and found Zachary in a nearby pond. Deputies began life-saving measures until EMS arrived.
Zachary was flown to a local hospital, where he was officially pronounced dead around 2 p.m.
Savannah Hauser-September 2010
The body of an autistic child who went missing from a Barling park Saturday afternoon was found Saturday night in a pond near the park.
The body of 3-year-old Savannah Hauser was recovered around 9:10 p.m. Saturday from a pond about 30 yards from the spot where she disappeared in a Springhill Park campsite.
"(In a situation like this) we always expect to find the kid sleeping or curled up," said Chuck Dale, member of Crawford County Search & Rescue. "We never want a search to end up like this."
The girl went missing after she and her family arrived at a campsite at the park.
Her parents turned their attention away from her briefly to get ice cream out of their vehicle, and when they turned back around, they found that the 3-year-old was missing, Barling Police Chief Tracy Powell said.
About 70 people, including members of law enforcement and emergency response agencies from Sebastian and Crawford counties, formed a search party and scoured the park Saturday.
Authorities were informed by Savannah's family that she was autistic and that she was drawn to water.
Crawford County Search & Rescue took a boat into the pond and used a sonar to spot any shape in the water that would resemble a child's body.
Canines used to search the banks of the pond led authorities to the spot where Hauser likely entered the pond, Dale said.
The boat team located Hauser's body near a boat ramp in the pond.
Dale said the area of the 10-foot-deep pond where Hauser was located is around a quarter-mile away from where she is believed to have entered the water. The water of the pond was moving swiftly Saturday, Dale said.
"We think the current may have floated her down there," he said. Dale said the only solace in the result of the search is that Savannah's family can have closure.
Anyah Raven-January 2010
Five-year-old Anyah Raven Glossinger, an autistic Cathedral City girl, drowned Jan. 23 during her child care program's swimming therapy session. The program, called Little Bridges, is operated by the United Cerebral Palsy Dennis James Center in Cathedral City.
Bernard Latimore-September 2010
A 10-year-old boy who was autistic and non-verbal wandered from his northwest Marion County home sometime Friday morning and drowned in a neighbor’s murky swimming pool, according to officials.
Bernard C. Latimore’s body was found in the deep end of an enclosed, in-ground swimming pool at 5920 N.W. 57th Court, just across the street from his family’s home at 5951 N.W. 57th Court.
The homes are in the Ocala Park Estates subdivision, which is west of Northwest 44th Avenue, north of U.S. 27 and south of County Road 326.
The boy’s mother, Katese Richardson, gathered at the drowning scene with the boy’s father and other family members and friends. She asked to see her son’s body before it was taken away by the Medical Examiner’s Office.
The wish was granted. After seeing her son, Richardson was so overcome with grief that she had to be taken home. Within minutes, an ambulance took her to West Marion Regional Medical Center for observation.
Sheriff’s deputies said they received a call from Richardson at 10:12 a.m. saying her son was missing. Officials say the woman was at work, and her 16-year-old son was caring for Bernard.
The older boy, according to deputies, had been asleep. He woke, noticed his brother was missing, then called his mother.
With assistance from the Air Unit and canines, deputies searched the area and looked for Bernard. They also activated a reverse 911 system, which alerted all neighbors and asked them to help locate the boy.
Officials expanded the search by contacting the Department of Corrections for their bloodhound dogs. The dogs sniffed the boy’s backpack and sneakers to get a scent.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., Katie Wyns, who lives at 5920 N.W. 57th Court, came home and told deputies she noticed a pink pillow in her pool.
Authorities say Bernard was known to carry around the pink pillow. They immediately searched the pool, where they found him in the deep end.
Deputies said the pool, which was covered with algae, was roughly 7 feet to 8 feet deep.
Authorities do not suspect foul play, and believe the child left his home and went to the neighbor’s home.
“He was a real smart boy who loved to play,” said Virgil Moore, one of the boy’s uncles.
Moore said he received the call about his nephew’s disappearance around 10 a.m. and joined the search. He said they looked in the nearby wooded area and along the streets.
Another relative, Lillie Sams, Bernard’s cousin, said “nobody was a stranger” to Bernard.
Sams said he joined the search, hoping they would find him playing somewhere.
“He liked to hug you. He was just a friendly little boy,” she said.
Sams and Moore said Bernard loved music and going to church.
They say he attended Roslyn Murray Home Day Care.
The relatives said Bernard normally had a pillow or a toy with him.
Beverly Standridge, a crisis-intervention specialist for the Sheriff’s Office, said the support the family received for searching for Bernard “was amazing.” She said the neighborhood came out in droves, looking for Bernard.
Skyler James Wayne-October 2010
An 8-year-old autistic boy accidentally drowned in the Salmon River October 7 and his body was found just south of the pedestrian bridge near Island Park in Salmon.
Skyler James Wayne’s death was an accidental drowning, Lemhi County Coroner Mike Mitchell has determined.
Authorities were called out last Thursday at 12:32 p.m. after Wayne’s body was found in 1-2 feet of water about 200 feet north of where Kids Creek flows into the river, according to a Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office news release.
Two boys walking along the river found Wayne’s body. Salmon EMTs and search and rescue volunteers responded, but couldn’t revive the boy. His head was underwater and his body was cold by the time rescuers arrived, Mitchell said.
It took about an hour for authorities to identify him. The boy had been missing from his home, located three houses away from the river, for about two hours. Wayne’s mother had gone out and left her son and a girl in the care of a babysitter, an older boy, Mitchell said.
Wayne was autistic, had a fascination with water and liked to walk along the river and watch things, the coroner said.
He was the son of Jennifer and Daniel Wayne II of Salmon.
This has been a tragic and emotional time for the grieving family, Salmon Police Chief K.V. Felker said.
Nathan T. Kinderdine-August 2010
AUSTINTOWN - Investigators are trying to determine how a 7-year-old Boardman boy wandered away from a group at the Leonard Kirtz School and drowned early Tuesday afternoon.
The boy, Nathan T. Kinderdine of Ewing Road, was found by a custodian at the bottom of the pool at the school about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday. Nurses at the school attempted CPR but they were unable to revive him. He was pronounced dead at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown.
Austintown police Detective Sgt. Ray Holmes said the investigation has just begun.
''You're trying to retrace where he was and where he went. That's the key,'' Holmes said. ''It's an accident. We're trying to see how the accident occurred. There's always reasons for the accident.''
Kinderdine was at the school as part of a enrichment class given by the Mahoning County Educational Service Center for special-needs students. A police report states Kinderdine is autistic.
His mother, Tracy, said Nathan was her first child and that his two younger sisters and younger brother have not quite grasped what happened.
''Nathan was our special little boy. He was our first born,'' she said. ''He loved everyone he met. He held a special place in everyone's heart. He was a very energetic and loving boy who will be terribly missed by friends, family and his two younger sisters and brothers.
''Our hearts have been shattered into a million pieces.''
Tracy Kinderdine said she did not want to comment on the circumstances of her son's death.
An Austintown police report states the doors to the pool are locked after a swim class and that the last adults in the pool Tuesday left about 12:05 p.m. About 12:35 p.m., a group of six students, including Kinderdine, were taken into a gym next to the pool.
The report states one of the adults watching over the children took Kinderdine and two others into a gym, then went back into a hallway to help another adult take three more children into the gym. When the adult came back, Kinderdine was missing, the report states. They checked the restrooms next to the gym and found them empty. The restrooms have doors that lead to the pool and those doors were locked, the report states.
Minutes later, two custodians checked the restroom and decided to check the pool, which is where they found Kinderdine in three and a half feet of water.
Larry Duck, superintendent of the county's Board of Developmental Disabilities, said the program lasts six weeks in the summer and has about 140 participants this year, with students ranging in age from 3 to 22. The program is set to end Friday and the decision was made to finish out the week as planned, Duck said.
Counselors were on hand at the school Wednesday to help staff or anyone else who was there who may need it.
This is the third drowning in the area this week. On Sunday, a Youngstown woman drowned at Berlin Reservoir after her grandchildren were in trouble in the water, and a Farrell, Pa, teen drowned Monday in the Shenango River in Sharon, Pa.
Devine Farrier-October 2009
No photo available
State Route 99 is a busy roadway, with cars flying by. Eleven-year-old Devine Farrier was trying to cross it Saturday when he was hit by a one ton flatbed pick-up truck.
He died Sunday at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
His family had reported the autistic boy had disappeared from his Sea-Tac home just 15 minutes earlier, and in that time he had wandered through the woods and onto the freeway without any shoes.
You may be wondering why an 11-year-old child was walking on State Route 99 all alone, but for parents of children with autism it’s something they worry about all the time. In fact, the National Autism Association found in a recent study that 92 percent of parents with children with autism consider those children at risk for wandering away.
Autism is a complex disorder that affects social interaction and communication. Lakeside Center for Autism in Issaquah educates and helps families and their children cope with the disorder.
It doesn’t surprise them that Devine walked away from home and onto a highway.
“It can be a common problem for most any of these kids,” said Dan Stachelski, Ex. Dir. Lakeside Center For Autism. “Part of the reason is they don’t have the internal motivation or internal feeling about being safe, about being protected by family members, about being connected to their parents to know that it’s not safe to leave their side.”
Protecting a child with autism can be difficult and expensive, from locks on doors to GPS systems, but the community can help as well.
“That’s what they need, they need help and this is an epidemic that’s not going anywhere,” said Stachelski.
Just a few days ago the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that one in every 91 children has a form of autism, and they believe that rate could continue to rise.
Ryan Barrett- August 2009
Mary Ellen Barrett is a Catholic writer and contributor to the Long Island Catholic newspaper. Her son, Ryan Barrett, 14 years old, had a seizure and drowned at the North-South Lake campground in Haines Falls. Last August 13, 2009, Ryan, his father and 6 year old brother arrived at the camping ground. This was an annual activity that these children were looking forward to do with several other families.
Mary Ellen Barrett is a great model of motherhood. From afar, I admire her articles and stance on many Catholic issues that pertains to our children. Having a brood of 8 children, I can very well understand her mission in life. Ryan is autistic and some history of seizures. However, Mary Ellen did not let his imperfection distract her from molding this boy to the “image and likeness” of God. Despite his quirks, Ryan dreams to be a humble servant of God.
The pain of the death of a child is inconceivable. Each time a son or daughter of mine disobeys us, we feel them dying to themselves. We try to revive them in their spiritual life, never giving up on them. In the death of a child, one becomes very human and feels the pain of utter loss.
As a Catholic woman filled with grace, Mary Ellen bounces back with resilience to be an example to all of us, especially to mothers. Her grief is understandable but the grace that emanates from her at this very critical time of her life is very “Mary-like”. It is the same grace that filled the Mother of Jesus, when her son suffered and died on the cross – the humble submission to God’s will and the peace that God provides.
Following is her email to those of us who went with her on this “journey of loss”. She was not alone. Thousands of us, united in prayer so that God will comfort and grant peace to their family. We prayed for Ryan. Mary Ellen and her family are shining examples of “obedience and resignation” to God’s will. Peace will reign in their hearts as they unite their loss to God’s everlasting plan.
COLUM CANNING-DECEMBER 2008
Karen Canning and David Bradley, from Derry, are calling for answers to how their five-year-old son Colum Canning fell into the pool at the Explorers hotel.
The heartbroken couple spent Christmas caring for Colum's twin brother Kieran and their seven-year-old daughter Caitlin, but are now preparing to lay Colum to rest.
"Colum was just a typical wee boy who was so happy, so loving and so full of energy," the couple said in a statement.
Karen Canning and David Bradley pay tribute to their son
Although he suffered from autism he was such a smart child, a real thinker who may not have been able to communicate like others but certainly knew everything that was going on.
"Christmas was always such a special time for us as a family and all the children were so excited at this time of year, with the boys celebrating their birthday on St Stephen's Day."
Staff at the Thomas Cook-owned three-star Explorers Hotel close to the Disney resort confirmed there had been no lifeguard on duty when Colum fell into the water.
Colum disappeared from his mother's view shortly after the family arrived at the venue.
The boy was quickly discovered in the water by another guest who jumped in and dragged him out, but he had already lost consciousness.
Colum died in hospital after his parents took the decision to switch his life-support machine off. They agreed to donate their son's organs.
The couple said they would be demanding a check of safety measures in the hotel.
"We are very concerned to learn there was no lifeguard on duty. As parents our first instinct is always to protect our children.
David Bradley and Karen Canning
"Therefore, it is very difficult for us to come to terms with the fact there was no-one around to look after them in the pool."
The parents revealed how the child went missing within seconds, before the tragedy quickly unfolded.
"Karen had only turned around to fetch a camera to take a picture of our three children and when she turned she could only see two faces.
"She instantly panicked and could not find him anywhere. At first she thought he was just hiding. The employee on duty at the desk near the pool said he did not see him.
"Not long after Karen noticed the commotion by the pool and just knew it was Colum."
After the tragedy a spokesman for travel agent Thomas Cook said its deepest sympathy was with the family.
AIDEN LAWSON- FEBRUARY, 2011
FORT LUPTON - There is little she can say or do to bring her three-year-old son back. But Bonnie Lawson is hoping this story will help others avoid a similar fate.
Lawson and her son Aiden were playing around the house Saturday when Aiden managed to slip out the sliding door into the back yard.
Once he was in the back yard, Lawson said Aiden climbed over the fence and ran toward a pond. No one saw him take off.
Lawson, her husband Alan, and several neighbors searched and searched, but they couldn't find him.
"There was no sign of him," she said.
About 45 minutes later, a neighbor saw something floating in the pond. It was Aiden's body.
"All I could do was run. I wanted my baby," Lawson said through tears. "They worked really hard on him. They [flew] him down to Children's Hospital where they continued to work on him."
Lawson had a chance to see what Aiden looked like when he was brought out of the pond. She knew it was too late.
"I prayed, but I knew" she said. "He had been in that water for 45 minutes. You hear of miraculous things happening, but I knew he wasn't going to recover."
All it took was one second for one child to force one mother to ask herself one simple question over and over.
"I keep thinking what if I did one thing different, just one," Lawson said.
She wants every parent to know how easy it is for their child to slip away. She watched over Aiden every minute of the day. Aiden was autistic and needed a lot of supervision.
"I loved him so much," she said. "I looked away for one second, one simple second, and he was gone."
Technically, Lawson is Aiden's grandmother. She became his guardian when he was born.
"He was my son, and he knew me as 'mom'," Lawson said.
Aiden's funeral is scheduled for later this week.
Lawson is asking for donations to be sent to Children's Hospital.
"I want them to continue saving lives," she said.
BLAKE MURRELL - APRIL, 2011
Blake Murrell, 4, was last seen wearing blue pants with a green stripe down the side.Officers believe Murrell wandered away from home and ended up inside this park. The pond is closed in by a fence, but police said the gates are unlocked and a child could easily wander in.Acting on a tip that someone saw Murrell in Memorial Park, which is just across the street from the boy's home, crews said they searched for hours. But they didn't find the boy, until, police said, they decided to drain the duck pond."We made a decision to go ahead and drain that pond. We didn't have any information that indicated that Blake may have been in the pond, but as a precautionary measure, we wanted to be able to ensure the family, as well as ourselves, that hopefully he was not in the pond," Chief Terry Brannon, of the Cushing Police Department, said.Officers said the boy's body was spotted as the pond was being drained, dashing their hopes of finding the 4-year-old alive."For me to see this is extremely hard. I have a professional face on now, but I can tell you I took a moment to step away a while ago and pray for that family, pray for the staff that were here and ask that God protect their hearts and minds as they continue to deal with this," Brannon said.The boy's death is believed to be an accident, but investigators will still talk to the boy's family because they said they aren't sure if anyone was home when Murrell wandered away.
SAVANNAH MARTIN - FEBRUARY, 2011
Girl, 7, who drowned in Lawton had struggled to overcome autism
But on Sunday, Savannah, 7, who was autistic, slipped away from her home in Lawton and headed for a chilly pond nearby. Her brother, Tommy Martin, 2, who was wearing a bicycle helmet, may have followed her to the pond, said the children's' aunt, Ruth Sanchez, 35.
Savannah was found face down in the pond, which was about 50 yards from her home. Her brother was floating upright next to her, buoyed by the Styrofoam in his helmet.
“We can't believe this little angel is gone,” Sanchez said.
The children's mother, Beth Martin, 31, swam into the pond but was unable to pull her daughter out of the water. A neighbor, Hector Figueroa, 45, swam in and pulled both children to the bank.
It was too late to save Savannah, despite her mother's efforts to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
Lawton firefighters also tried CPR, but Savannah was pronounced dead at Southwestern Medical Center.
Tommy Martin has been released from OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where he was treated for hypothermia, a hospital spokesman said Tuesday.
Lawton police Capt. Craig Akard said he doesn't know how long the children were in the water. He said officers are still interviewing witnesses and he couldn't comment on the investigation.
Beth Martin had recently separated from her husband, Thomas Martin, who is in the Oklahoma National Guard, and had been looking for a new place to live because of concerns about the pond, said Sanchez, who is Beth Martin's sister.
Beth Martin wanted to get a house with an alarm system because Savannah had recently figured out how to unlock doors, Sanchez said.
Savannah was diagnosed as autistic when she was 2, Sanchez said. Her mother worked to get her daughter to speak. But Savannah had not quite gotten the hang of swimming.
“She loved the water and playing in the bathtub and swimming. Water was a big draw to her, just the movement of it and the shimmering of the water in the sun outside,” she said.
A family friend, Juliet Burk, of Tahlequah, said Beth Martin worked doggedly with her daughter, even traveling to therapists in upstate New York.
She said Savannah started to say a few words and short sentences by the time she was 5.
In a Feb. 8 Facebook post, Beth Martin wrote: “Savannah looked at me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Give me a hug!' And ran into my arms. Can never thank those in her life that have helped get her to this point enough. Your work is never unnoticed or forgotten.”
Sanchez said her niece was on track to be mainstreamed into a first-grade class at Cache Elementary School. Once a week, Sanchez drove Savannah to the ACI Learning Center in Edmond, a therapy school for autistic children.
“Savannah had made tremendous strides,” Sanchez said. “She'd come home and give us hugs and kisses.”
Savannah loved Disney princesses and fairies and her favorite singer was Taylor Swift. Her brother Tommy was her “cohort,” who would go everywhere with her, Sanchez said.
About 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Beth Martin couldn't find the children in the house and ran to the pond, but didn't see them at first, Sanchez said. Then their older brother, Tristen, 11, went to the pond and heard them screaming.
Beth Martin climbed a barbed-wire fence to get to the pond, but was not strong enough to get her daughter to the bank, Sanchez said.
Martin went into shock at the hospital and has not been able to talk about her daughter's death, Sanchez said.
“Beth had told me she was planning to spend the rest of her life taking care of Savannah so she could give her the best life she could,” Sanchez said
ADAM BENHAMAMA- SOMETIME BETWEEN APRIL AND MARCH, 2011
MONTREAL — The body of a child found Tuesday on the banks of Riviere-des-Mille-Iles in Terrebonne, Que., is Adam Benhamama, a two-year-old autistic boy who had been missing since April 3.
Dr. Louise Nolet, Quebec's chief coroner, confirmed Tuesday evening that the Montreal morgue has taken custody of the body.
The toddler, who would have turned three June 22, disappeared while playing hide-and-seek near water in the Auteuil district of Laval, triggering an extensive search.
A passerby spotted the remains at the water's edge.
Adam had last been reported wearing a black jacket with detachable hood, green nylon pants, blue running shoes and a black toque.
Adam's family emigrated from Morocco six years ago, and live in Anjou, on the eastern part of Montreal Island, with an older sister, 7, and a younger brother.
The youngster had been diagnosed as mildly autistic — hearing impaired and speech delayed. He went missing during a visit with his father and sister to a sick friend in Laval.
Police and volunteers conducted a painstaking search of the area for several days near the home where he had last been reported seen. They found no trace of either the boy or his clothing.
"Since this little boy has disappeared, the family has not been doing well at all, at all," a subdued Pina Arcamone, of the Missing Children's Network, said before the youngster's identity was officially confirmed. "You can tell she's having a very difficult time coping," she said of Adam's mother, with whom she recently visited.
"She misses her little boy a lot. "She's been the primary caregiver for the child as well," Arcamone added. The child disappeared "on the day she decided to stay home and rest."
"It all happened in just a few seconds — she just couldn't fathom a life without Adam."
The local Moroccan community especially has rallied for the family, Arcamone said, and the father's mother and brother came from Morocco.
Adam's mother "can't even go into his room . . . Every, everything reminds her (of him). There's an empty place at the dinner table, for example, because Adam is not there."
For many weeks, Arcamone added, the child's mother had been clinging to "the slim chance that he did not fall into the water, because nothing has been found for such a long time.
"She implored us to look at other possibilities, that maybe he did wander off with someone.
"She just needed to know."
Terrebonne, just north of Laval, is about 27 kilometres north of Montreal.
TRISTIAN GUFFEY - APRIL, 2011
An Elkhart teenager has died after suffering severe burns in a fire that happened Thursday evening in the 1200 block of Rice Street.
Tristan Guffey, 15, was air-lifted to a hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
The victim had a severe form of autism. According to fire investigators, he was playing with matches and lighter fluid when he caught himself and his home on fire.
Despite the efforts of some strangers who managed to put out the fire that was burning the teen, on Friday he passed away.
"I wish I could have actually got here sooner to help him out. Maybe I could have saved his life," said Drake Newton. "I really don't know him, but I care for him."
Drake Newton and his nephew Derek were driving by, becoming two of the first to help Tristan when he ran out of his house, his entire body covered in flames.
Drake and Derek ripped his burning clothes off, stopping the fire that was burning him.
Now that Drake knows the boy has died, he wishes he could have done more.
"I wish I could have taken that pain myself instead of him going through that."
The tragedy has hit the entire Elkhart neighborhood. People who knew Tristan remember a happy boy who loved Legos and Transformers.
"He was really nice, because he would always say hi to me and we didn't even know each other," said Hannah Duncan.
Duncan and her friend were walking around the neighborhood when they saw the fire, catching the chaos on their phones.
"We saw him and he was on a stretcher…and he was completely black. We saw his mom screaming…"
Now, for those who witnessed the fire, they are still shocked that the young boy is gone.
"I can't even put it in words right now."
PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE GOD, LET THERE BE NO MORE NAMES OR PICTURES ADDED TO THIS PAGE.
Autism is not going to just go away. In fact it is more prevalent today than it has ever been. 1 out of every 110 children is placed on some level of the autism spectrum. 92% of those children wander. The number one cause of death among autistic children is drowning. These children can not adapt to the dangerous environments that are around them. Therefore it is our responsibility to adapt the environments around them to ensure their safety, and the first step to doing that is education.
First responders MUST understand autism. It is imperative for them to have every scrap of information they need to bring these children back to their parents safe and sound. In this day and age, first responders are often on the scene for quite sometime before the parent even arrives. If I had only gotten home five minutes sooner, my son would be alive. If the first responders had only gone to the pond when asked, my son would still be alive. By the time I reached him, he had only been drowned for minutes, but those minutes were enough to rob me of the most important person in my life.
We came up with the idea for the Mason Alert because we know what information would have saved Mason’s Life, and we know what actions would have saved his life. We also know that this information must be collected in a time when the parent is thinking clearly, not when the parent is consumed by fear, worry, despair and terror. We want the Mason Alert to immediately provide authorities with the following:
We look at the Mason Alert as a tool in an arsenal of tools that are needed to protect our children. Personal GPS Locators, informed neighbors, informed first responders, informed teachers, proper locks and safety equipment... all of these are essential tools that are absolutely required in order to keep our loved ones safe. It is so unfortunate that we have to search and scramble to gather the things we need to protect our children, and that is what we are hoping to change. I am a mother who lost her child. Why did he die? I wish I could answer that question. I think that it was a combination of tragic errors and misinformation that cost my son his life. Nothing went right that day, and he is gone, so all I can do is try to help others protect their children. I am not a police officer. I am not a doctor. I am not a politician or a scientist who has spent years researching this issue. I am just a mother who lost her son and wants to keep other children alive by arming parents with everything I DID NOT KNOW prior to Mason's death.
Keep your children alive by researching what programs are available immediately in your areas. Talk to every single person you can to keep them aware of your child's disability. Keep a detailed list of hazards in your home, near your phone, in your car, at your office. The reason I say this is because there is a large windmill near the pond Mason drowned in, but in that one terrifying moment when I begged everyone go to the pond, I never even thought of the windmill. Details matter in life and death situations, and if they are written down when you are clear headed and thinking properly, you won't forget them when you are in a panicked situation and reading them off a piece of paper.
How is the Amber Alert different from the Mason Alert?
I will tell you this. I spoke to the officer who was a hundred feet from the pond that Mason drowned in and he told me that he has nightmares about my screams. It is not only a tragedy for our family, but it is a horrible burden for those who weren’t able to save my child, and all of us will bear that burden for the rest of our lives.
The next step is technology. We created the Mason Allen Medlam Foundation for Autism Safety to help provide families without resources the latest and best technology to save their child. GPS tracking bracelets are a wonderful tool for parents that can use them, but many children have sensory issues and unfortunately those children will not wear these items.
Safety latches, door and window alarms and keyless or double key locks are an absolute necessity. We hope to provide those items as needed to families that can not afford them.
Before Mason died, we felt so isolated in the world. We never even imagined that other families lived with the same constant fear that their child would escape and head straight to danger. When we set up the foundation website, we began to get thousands of sign ups for the alert. Almost every single one had a comment attached to it and I was shocked by how many other families were living my life.
Here are just a few of the comments that I’ve received:
A friend sent me your site on facebook, and my mother cried and told me of your story because we are about to move to a small house, half a block away from a lake. Our 6 year old son, Jack, has autism. He has "eloped" for years. We are comfortable now with him, here in the house he has grown up in, but because of his behaviors, problems with our school system, and lack of resources for proper daycare, etc., here in this town, I have not been able to work so we have lost our home. I feel the fear of him being gone everyday. Many times we have lost him for 45 minutes or more, but thankfully, he has come home every time. I believe the part of your story when you knew exactly where he would be, but others didn't hear you...that speaks volumes to me. I pray that you and your family find peace and know I will be thinking of you, almost daily, not because of your loss, but because of the shared fear that we have had for years and the strength and patience it takes. I hope that people actually hear your story and know to listen when it matters most. Thank you for your time in reading this and good luck in your ventures. You have and will make a difference, I am sure.
You are living my worst fear, I have a 6 year old autistic daughter, she is always loving and mostly happy. She doesn't see the world in the way it really is. We love her just as she is. She’s also non-verbal. She regressed from being typical to moderate to severe autism right around her 3rd b-day.
We pulled her out of the "shell" she was in and people don’t understand HOW we do it. But they also don’t understand how thankful we are she is OURS.
She escaped in April of 07 we didn’t have an official do list yet. She had never wandered before then. We just realized she was missing when a stranger showed up with her.. He had found her across the street and since she looked unfamiliar he thought maybe she was ours since we were just moving in. We put chains and hotel style latches on all the doors.
In on July 26th 07 she did it again. This time we didn’t know how she got out. We took all the precautions. We had to call the police. They were slow to respond because it was not foul play.... they figured shed turn up ?? I refused to answer more questions until they got someone out looking for her. They did and they found her in the busiest intersection in town. She was happy as could be in a diaper and t-shirt. All cars had stopped thankfully. An officer carried her 4 blocks home. Later I saw her use a broom handle to unlatch the doors then I knew how it all happened.
She escaped again but we found her before we had to call the police. She is also drawn to water... we met our family at a hotel once in December... they had a indoor pool. Our daughter was in a snowsuit. I think she just turned 5. One second she was standing beside me and the next second she jumped in the 12ft end of pool ....... my heart stopped. I dove in after her. Thankfully she was fine but had I not been watching the outcome could of been deadly. She just loves water.
I asked the police why they don’t issue amber alert when she went missing and they said those are issued for children in grave danger and or foul play.
I also work with autistic kids .. if they wander away from a adult they ARE IN DANGER. I think last I heard 5 autistic children died in a 2 week period. Something has to change!
My heart breaks for you. It could of easily been me. Every precaution is taken but these kids are clever. I SLEEP with mine for fear she would sneak out during the night.
My boys are grown now but one has Aspergers and I honestly think the other was missed diagnosed with ADHD when he was seven. Both have slipped away and my youngest has even taken off on me in the last couple of years. We need special need children and adult included in the Amber Alert. Grant it I found my boys a short time after they slipped away and they were safe. But I shudder to think what could have happen.
We had a very scary experience over the summer when my son escaped my cousin's house while on vacation. In a blink of an eye, he was gone. Just minutes later, we found him 200 yards away and just several yards from entering onto a main road. He is nonverbal. He also has a twin brother, also ASD, who is an escape artist. A Mason Alert would be an excellent tool to help find these children before disaster finds them!
So many special needs children are lost because their limitations are not immediately responded to. A missing child is not handled the same way a missing adult is and a missing special needs child should not be responded to as a "normal" missing child would be.
My son was 10 when he got out and was found walking in the middle of the highway towards his school. He had missed his school bus and his caregiver didn't realize he was out of the house. I wish there were some type of alert going on at that time. We were blessed to find him but I never want to experience that again.
I have a 3 year old autistic son, he escaped through our front door as he figured out how to open the door locks...we noticed he was gone immediately but where he ran was so far from where we assumed he would of gone. He was missing for 39 minutes, which felt like a lifetime. He was found by two city workers that had seen him walking all over the street nearing a busy intersection. By the grace of god he was rescued by these two city workers and they called the police right away...my son is also nonverbal and has no fear or understanding sometimes of his surroundings...the Mason Alert needs to be put in place immediately, I am so sorry for your loss, it touches my heart so deeply, you are in my prayers. May we all come together and keep Mason's memory alive.
I am so sorry for your loss. I have a 4 year old girl with Autism. This story could have been about her. She will wander off if unsupervised for a few minutes. She can figure out locks, squeeze into tight places, find things we hide from her. She is also non-verbal; if she ran off and we called to her, she would NEVER answer or run back. My deepest condolences for your loss.
And finally From Juliette,
My son Aaron was diagnosed with Autism at the age of 3 back in October 2004. Exactly 2 years after his diagnose, he drowned in a retention pond near my mother's home. Every time I read another story about another child lost, I relive that day all over again. I have tried to get that pond fenced around but I get the same story. I wish others would wake up and understand that these are not isolated incidents, but that it is happening everywhere.
I have literally thousands of stories from other parents who have signed the Mason Alert Petition. All of them tell the same story of fear and desperation. All of them live with the terror that one day they will wake up and their child will be gone.
Each time an Autistic or developmentally delayed child or adult wanders, it should be treated as though a kidnapping has just taken place. That is the level of heightened awareness and diligence that is required to get them home to their families alive. Anything less is unacceptable.
I would like to ask each of you to look for just one moment at my son’s picture. That smiling face was the face he always wore. The joy shining from his eyes is the joy that he shared with the world, and now he’s gone, and I would give anything, anything at all to have him back for even one more minute. Please, I am begging you, help us protect these children. Don’t let the world lose another Mason. He was a precious gift and he made the world a better, more beautiful place and I believe all the world should mourn the loss of this joyful, wonderful boy.
Thank you so much.
He always saw more than I did.I love you, I love you, I love you Mason Allen Medlam.
Please, please, please sign the page for the Mason Alert. I never, ever want another mother to endure the pain I am enduring. This has been absolutely the most unbearable tragedy that we have ever had to endure. I can not even begin to explain to you how grief stricken and brokenhearted we are. Our only hope left to us is that out of this heartache something beautiful will blossom that will protect the other angels like Mason. Thank you so very, very much.
We would love to come and be guest speakers at any group that shares our view point. We would love to help you educate the first responders and others in your community. Anything and everything that we can do to help to bring information and education to those who help us protect our wandering loved ones is important to us.
As guest speakers, we require that traveling expenses be covered, and while we never charge a fee to speak, donations to the Mason Allen Medlam Foundation are appreciated and will be used to help us provide free safety equipment to those who need it.
If you would like us to come to your area, please email me at email@example.com or call me at 316-807-6372.
Mason's story is powerful and effective in bridging the gaps in understanding that exist in our world today. No one can look into his beautiful eyes and not feel the loss of this wonderful boy.