Originally Posted: Jun 14, 2022
A day after an 11-year-old Lindsay, Ont., boy with autism was found dead in an Ontario river, petitions are circulating online that call on the province to create an Amber Alert system for vulnerable children who have gone missing.
Suzi Guarrasi, an Ajax mother of a boy who has autism and is non-verbal, started a petition on change.org on Monday that asks the Ontario government and Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to review their policies and procedures on emergency alerts.
Guarrasi said if an alert had gone out immediately, there is a greater chance that the life of Draven Graham, the Lindsay boy, could have been saved. Her petition has garnered more than 3,460 signatures as of Tuesday at 9 p.m.
“It’s just our worst nightmare,” Guarrasi said on Tuesday.
“It’s anybody’s worst nightmare to lose their child, but for our families and our community, it is the absolutely most gut-wrenching thing, especially when your child is developmentally delayed and is non-verbal and can’t say, ‘I’m here, help me.'”
Draven was found dead in the Scugog River at about 3:30 p.m. Monday in Lindsay after going missing from his home about 24 hours earlier. Kawartha Lakes Police Service said Draven was not wearing shoes when he left home at about 3 p.m. on Sunday. He was last seen in the area of Rivera Park in Lindsay half an hour later.
Kawartha Lakes Police said they searched on foot for Draven with the help of the OPP canine unit, the Peterborough Police canine unit and volunteer firefighters. The OPP used a boat, drone and helicopter to search for the boy. Police said the search went throughout Sunday night.
Police had described Draven as having limited verbal skills and a sensory irritation to touch. They said he was not likely to come out if called by name and that he liked to hide. An OPP underwater search and recovery team recovered his body. Police had found his clothes before they found his body. No foul play is suspected.