KATY – Parents of an 11-year-old boy with autism want to know how their son was able to wander several miles from his school before administrators notified them, likely prolonging a disappearance they said should have been reported and solved sooner.
Jonah Krukewitt wandered from Rodger and Ellen Beck Junior High School in Katy ISD on Friday, Oct. 22, at 11 a.m., according to his parents. They said they weren’t notified of his disappearance until after 2 p.m., despite Jonah wearing a tracking device that allows law enforcement to track him down.
“At 2 p.m., a KATY ISD police officer showed up at my house and said my son had run from the school and they hadn’t found him yet,” said Mikel Krukewitt, Jonah’s mother.
Jonah wears a bracelet that allows law enforcement to track his whereabouts in the event of a disappearance. It’s part of a program called Project Lifesaver, intended for people with cognitive disabilities who have a history of wandering from home.
“The sheriff’s department is aware and they have a file on him in their computer database and they have his picture and description. They could get a lot more people to help look for him, and again use the bracelet to locate him,” said Paul Krukewitt, Jonah’s father. “It’s like a transmitter and the officer in the program they have a radar that can locate it and all they have to do is pull it out and it beeps and as they get closer it beeps louder,” he continued.
According to the Krukewitt’s, administrators at Jonah’s school told them he went missing around lunchtime. They said had administrators contacted them sooner or if Katy ISD police called investigators associated with Project Lifesaver, Jonah would have been found sooner. When Katy ISD police notified them, Mikel contacted a Jonah’s Project Lifesaver officer from HCSO.
“While she was on her radio, I got on my phone and called the officer who is over Jonah because he wears the lifesaver bracelet and they can locate him. I called her and I said, ‘Jonah ran from his school,’ and she said okay,” Mikel said.
Jonah is enrolled in the program through the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, but he was found wandering in Fort Bend County. The Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office partners with Project Lifesaver as well. Mikel said she called Jonah’s representative from HCSO, who quickly called FBCSO.
“She called Fort Bend County and at that time they received a 911 call and two civilians said they saw him hop over the Grand Parkway and they got over and picked him up,” Krukewitt said.
Jonah was reunited with his mother shortly thereafter. He was sweaty, dehydrated and unaware of the danger he had experienced.
“The whole two-plus hour they were out looking for him, it could have been much shorter,” said Paul.
A spokesperson for Katy ISD told KPRC2 the district could not comment on confidential matters with a parent’s consent.
Meantime, the Krukewitt family has questions about how their son was able to wander so far from school without anyone remembering the bracelet and Jonah’s history.
“Had they called 911 saying he has a project lifesaver bracelet, they would have been able to get the right equipment out so they could locate him very, very quickly,” Mikel said.