Parents and advocates for people with mental disabilities are starting a campaign to expand the Amber Alert in Texas.
Tammy Kelley is helping spearhead the effort to include adults with mental, physical and developmental disabilities.
“A lot of people in the public assumed that the Amber Alert would be able to cover people with special needs” says Kelley. “So my hopes are now, in talking with you, getting it out there, that the Amber Alert does not cover people with special needs.”
Kelley is the mother of 19-year-old Paige, who doctors didn’t expected to live beyond the age of five. Paige has learned to walk and talk and Kelley says her daughter is learning new things, while also suffering from a number of ailments such as autism and epilepsy.
“I just assumed the laws in place would take care of her” says Kelley.
Supporters of amending the Amber Alert have launched a Facebook page in honor of 31-year-old Tiffany Demus, who was found dead last Sunday from an accidental drowning. Demus was mentally ill and had been missing for five days. Friends and caregivers say they tried to encourage police to initiate an Amber Alert to help find Tiffany, but her age and the circumstances didn’t fit the criteria.
“They said that they did not do them for adults” says Richard Mills, the Special Events Director at Mary’s House, a rehabilitation day care center where Demus spent her daytime hours.
Kelley, Mills and others want the Amber Alert to include people 18 and older with mental, physical and development disabilities, whose whereabouts are unknown, and who could be in danger. They say they would also support a separate alert for this population, which they want to be called a Tiffany Alert, in honor of Tiffany Demus, whose funeral will be held Saturday.