Zyiar Harris

Photo of a boy with brown skin, wearing a gray baseball cap and black and white patterned sweater.Name: Zyiar Harris.
Died: April 10, 2022.
Age at death: 13.
Cause of death: Accident (Hit by car).
Location: Detroit, Michigan, USA.

Details:
Zyiar rode the bus to and from school. In the USA, school buses are equipped with vehicle-mounted stop signs and flashing lights, and bus drivers are required to display the signs and lights whenever they stop to load or unload students, so that drivers on the road will see the signs and stop to let the children cross the road. Because he was autistic, Zyiar’s driver was supposed to let him off the bus right in front of his own home.

However, instead of stopping in front of Zyiar’s home, Zyiar’s bus driver stopped on a busy street. She did not activate the signs or the lights when she stopped to let Zyiar off, so traffic did not stop. When Zyiar got off the bus to cross the street, he was hit by a car; and instead of stopping to help, the bus driver simply drove away.

Zyiar was taken to a hospital, but his injuries proved fatal. “My son was autistic, so you didn’t care, you just let him out, in the middle of the street,” Zyiar’s mother said. “And then when he got hit, she pulled out, she saw him get hit and still pulled off.”

The bus driver has been charged with child abuse and failing to stop after being involved in an accident.

References:
School bus driver charged in death of 13-year-old boy hit by car last week in Detroit
Detroit Bus Driver Charged In 13-Year-Old Autistic Student’s Death
Final arrangements for Baby Zyair

Mason Sadler

Mason Sadler, a young boy with dark hair and olive-toned skin, stands on a driveway, wearing a backpack that dwarfs him. He is wearing an athletic T-shirt and shorts, and smiling for the camera.Name: Mason Sadler.
Died: August 29, 2021.
Age at death: 3.
Cause of death: Drowning.
Location: Spring Hollow Township, Missouri, USA.

Details:
Mason’s parents left him with a babysitter. While under her care, Mason left the house, found a nearby pond, and drowned. Though the incident looked at first like one of the accidental drowning deaths so common among water-loving autistic youngsters, authorities found surveillance video and established that Mason’s babysitter had left him alone for more than an hour. They charged the babysitter with first-degree child endangerment.

Editor’s note: In the typical accidental drowning, a caregiver turns their back for just a minute, and the child is gone. These are tragedies, accidental and unforeseen. To prevent accidental drownings among autistic children, it is highly recommended to teach them to swim, and to fence off all ponds and swimming pools. However, leaving a three-year-old alone for an hour is obvious negligence, which makes this death very different from the sad accidents that take children even from conscientious parents.

References:
Laclede County Woman Charged In Autistic Child’s Drowning Death Pleads Not Guilty
Lebanon family speaks out after hearing about arrest in Mason Sadler case
Charges Filed in 3-Year Old’s Death
Lebanon woman charged with toddler’s drowning death

9-year-old boy

Name Unknown.
Died: April 21, 2021.
Age at death: 9.
Cause of death: Neglect (Drowning).
Location: Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA.

Details:
This 9-year-old boy lived with his father in a house with an old, dirty swimming pool out back. Despite the fact that the boy had a severe intellectual disability, the father did not bother to put a fence around the pool. Child protective services had once found him wandering alone outside.

On the day he died, the boy’s father reported that he had left the back door open, and the boy had fallen into the pool. Instead of calling emergency services, he called the child’s mother, and then only called emergency services when she demanded he do so. At first reluctant to retrieve the child from the pool because he did not like water, he was finally persuaded to fish him out with a rake and do CPR. The boy was found to be brain-dead at the hospital.

His father pleaded no contest to aggravated manslaughter, and was sentenced to one year of community control and five years of probation.

References:
Port St. Lucie man enters plea deal sparing him prison time in drowning of 9-year-old son
Father jailed on aggravated manslaughter of a child charge after son’s death in Port St. Lucie
Man arrested in connection with son’s drowning death in Port St. Lucie
Dad arrested for manslaughter after 9-year-old autistic son found at bottom of pool
Port St. Lucie man charged with manslaughter in autistic son’s drowning

Ayushi Majethia

Photo of a young Indian woman, her dark hair cut short, a small scar across her eyebrow and one eye turned slightly outward, looking at the camera with a thoughtful expression.Name: Ayushi Majethia.
Died: March 27, 2021.
Age at death: 27.
Cause of death: Accidental/Negligence (Dehydration/pneumonia after going missing).
Location: Chembur, Maharashtra, India.

Details:
Ayushi, who had intellectual disability as well as autism, went to a nearby temple with her mother. They became separated, and Ayushi got lost. The family went to police, asking for help. They showed the police her mental health certificate. Her brother explained that Ayushi was a vulnerable disabled person and they needed to start searching for her right away, because she could easily be hurt on her own.

But the police did not file a First Information Report until Ayushi had been missing for 17 days. Some people saw her on the trains, and one of Ayushi’s friends who saw her also called the police; but nothing was done.

It wasn’t until May 3 that Ayushi’s family were informed that she was dead. Her body had been found two days after she went missing; she had died of dehydration and pneumonia, and her body had been cremated a day later because all the mortuaries were full of COVID victims. Her family had to identify her from pictures.

Had the police acted when they asked for help, Ayushi’s family believes she would be alive today.

References:
Mumbai: Family claims police delay led to missing autistic woman’s death

Ryan Kowal

Photo of a fair-skinned, blond young man with brown eyes, outdoors; his brow is furrowed and mouth half-open in a puzzled expression.Name: Ryan Kowal.
Died: January 23, 2021.
Age at death: 21.
Cause of death: Negligence (Choked while unsupervised).
Location: Bakersfield, California, USA.

Details:
Ryan lived in a supported living facility. He had a tendency to put things into his mouth, so he had to be fed a soft diet and watched carefully to prevent him from choking.

Ryan died because he was left alone with some crackers by his caregivers, and crammed them into his mouth and choked. Staff knew the risk; seven months before, Ryan had nearly choked during a similar incident.

References:
Family files suit after death of autistic man in Bakersfield care facility
Parents hope lawsuit helps spark change after son’s choking death at local care center
Wrongful death lawsuit filed in autistic man’s choking death