‘Athena Alert’ Passes, Provides Faster, Regional Alerts on Missing Kids

“Athena,” informally known as the “Alert,” is a new law that fills the gap between when a child disappears and how long it may take for investigators to confirm an abduction, which prompts officials to issue an AMBER Alert..

The notifications will continue to be dispatched under the AMBER Alert. designation, however, the notifications will continue to be dispatched under the AMBER Alert. designation, the recent legislation permits local law enforcement to seek a notification as soon as they become aware that a child is unaccounted for, as stated by the Texas DPS on July 6.

The DPS stated, “It is important for Texans to understand that the legislation did not create a new AMBER alert, but rather, it will continue to reference and alert all messaging as an AMBER alert.”

The police can use the new alert system, Alert AMBER, to quickly distribute a localized alert to notify people within a 100-mile radius of the reported disappearance of a missing child and the adjacent counties.

The sooner we can get the word out locally, the more chances we have to save a child’s life.

Benson Varghese, attorney representing Athena Strand’s mother Matilyn Gandy

The delivery driver confessed to accidentally hitting Athena with his vehicle when she was telling her father about the incident. Two days later, Athena, the 7-year-old girl from North Texas, who is named Strand, was found dead and her father’s home in Paradise vanished in November 2022.

On Wednesday, the Senate approved the bill. State Sen. Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) sponsored it and it was then sent to the Texas Senate. State Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Sanger) authored the bill in the Texas Senate, and it was passed by the Texas House of Representatives on May 9. The bill, also known as House Bill 3556, is referred to as the “Athena Alert..”

Maitlyn Gandy, Athena’s mother, expressed, “It holds great significance to be aware that my daughter’s existence will leave a long-lasting influence.” “I am tremendously appreciative of Texas legislators for expediting the ‘Athena Alert.’ and for all those who have backed this bill.”

She asked how soon her daughter could be found, recalling that she had requested an AMBER Alert.. Gandy testified before a select committee on April 25, as the bill was being debated in the Texas House.

Gandy expressed in April that she does not desire to witness another grandparent grieving like her father did. She also does not want a mother to bear the burden of bringing home an urn containing the ashes of her children. Gandy further stated that she does not want anyone else to experience the emotions she is currently feeling. Regrettably, she kept receiving the same response that the person in question did not meet the requirements for an AMBER Alert. to be issued.

An AMBER Alert. was issued in Athena’s case, but she eventually disappeared and was not found until about 24 hours later. Investigators said she had been killed. Her body was found about six miles from her home the following day.

Gandy expressed, “If this alert had been implemented at the time of my daughter’s disappearance, it would have prompted the involvement of the Wise County Sheriff’s Office.” Regrettably, due to the fact that his daughter’s vanishing did not initially fulfill the stringent requirements for a statewide AMBER Alert., they were unable to take immediate action.

Maitlyn Gandy, the mother of Athena Strand, speaks in Wise County on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.

Gandy expressed, “I feel helpless when a parent has no other option but to wait for their missing child. I hope that Texas will amend the law and every state will follow suit. I wouldn’t wish that feeling on any parent.”

The legislation will take effect on September 1st once signed, according to Benson Varghese, the attorney representing Gandy. It is anticipated that the governor will organize a signing ceremony as a tribute to the murdered girl.

Varghese stated, “The backing for this legislation has been immense. Without imposing a financial strain on taxpayers or a logistical strain on law enforcement, it is a sensible bill that will preserve lives.”