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Officials 'alarmed' after recent drownings

July 21, 2007

For the second time this week, an autistic boy has drowned in Phoenix.

The most recent case involved a 12-year-old whom firefighters pulled from a murky backyard pool about 1:15 p.m. Friday.

Phoenix fire spokesman Mike Sandulak said the boy was pronounced dead at a hospital.

It was not clear how long the child had been in the water. A 16-year-old girl called authorities when the boy disappeared from the home in the 3800 block of West Carol Avenue.

It happened just three days after an 8-year-old autistic boy fell into a west Phoenix canal. At the time, Jayson Allan was in the care of Quest Alliance Inc., which operates out of the Arizona Korean Presbyterian Church, 6440 W. Indian School Road.

Authorities have described Quest Alliance Inc. as a school, but its Web site says it provides social outings and life-lesson activities for people with special needs.

Attempts to reach Quest Alliance Inc. were unsuccessful.

Police said Jayson unbuckled himself from a van and wandered off while a staff member handled an issue with two other children. The Department of Economic Security has temporarily ceased operations at the facility until an investigation is complete.

Sandulak said adults need to be alert when any child is around water, but autistic and special-needs children "need additional care and supervision."

He said fire officials have been "alarmed" by the spate of drownings in the past two weeks.

Another recent drowning occurred July 8, when a child was pulled from a pool at a home near McDowell Road and 51st Avenue.

The child died a day later.

In that case, an older sibling was supposed to have been watching the child.
Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
By Lindsey Collom
Copyright 2007 Arizona Republic

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