Athena Strand-inspired “Athena Alert” bill passes Texas House

Texas State’s House of Representatives has approved a new alert system in the State named the “Athena Alert,” inspired by the tragic death of a seven-year-old girl from Wise County, Athena Strand. The approval came on Tuesday, paving the way for law enforcement to issue alerts when a child goes missing, even if there is no confirmation of an abduction, which is a requirement for the issuance of an AMBER Alert.

The bill seeks to address the issue that prompted Athena’s death, where the delivery boy, Tanner Horner, is accused of killing her after hitting her with his van in December 2022. Horner has pleaded not guilty to the charges. However, the AMBER alert was not issued until the afternoon of the following day, as the Strand’s disappearance didn’t meet the requirements for an AMBER notice since there was no evidence to indicate that she had been kidnapped.

In response to the unfortunate incident, House Bill 3556 was introduced and written by Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Sanger), to reduce the time lapse between a missing child and a statewide AMBER alert being issued. The bill seeks to provide law enforcement with the ability to activate an alert for up to 100-mile radius and neighboring counties when a child is believed to have gone missing.

The house has approved the bill with a sweeping majority of 142-0, with two members abstaining from voting. If the Senate approves the bill, it will then move to the Governor’s desk to become law.

For now, State Senators Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound), and Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) will carry the bill in the Senate for a vote. The Athena Alert has the potential to spare countless children from danger by improving the systems in place to inform authorities of missing children and potentially saving their lives.

The introduction of the Athena Alert is an excellent initiative that can make a significant impact in Texas, and the seamless approval of the bill shows that everyone in the legislature recognizes the importance of taking measures to avoid similar tragic occurrences in the future.

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