A bill inspired by the death of seven-year old Athena Strand was passed in the Texas House on Tuesday that would establish a new alert in Texas.
The ‘Athena Alert’ would allow law enforcement to issue alerts in the region when a child goes missing, even if there is no confirmation of an abduction, which is required to issue an AMBER Alert.
Strand went missing from her home in Wise County in December 2022. She was discovered to have disappeared on Wednesday night, but an AMBER Alert wasn’t issued until Thursday afternoon.
Tanner Horner, a delivery driver, is charged with kidnapping and killing Strand after hitting her with his delivery van. Horner has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Even though the alert went out on Thursday, the sheriff did not have evidence to indicate that she was abducted, meaning the case did not fit the qualifications for an AMBER Alert.
House Bill 3556, authored by Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Sanger), aims to shorten the time between when a child goes missing and a statewide AMBER Alert can be issued.
If the bill is passed, law enforcement can activate an alert within a 100-mile radius of the location the from which the child is believed to have gone missing or the location in which the child was last seen.
HB3556 passed the House with a 142-0 vote, with two present representatives abstaining from voting.
The bill will now move to the Senate, where State Senators Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) and Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) will carry the bill.
If passed it will go on to the Governor’s desk.