Friday, August 14, 2009

Haines Falls, New York: Missing autistic teen, Ryan Barrett, found dead

Ryan Barrett, age 14

Posted: Aug 14, 2009 10:07 AM EDT

HAINES FALLS -- Officials in Greene County believe they have found the body of a 14-year-old autistic teen that went missing from a campground Thursday. The teen, Ryan Barrett of Lindenhurst in Long Island, was staying with family at the North South Lake Campground in Haines Falls, ten miles from Hunter Mountain.

Witnesses say the boy was found dead in one of the two lakes nearby. Police suspect no foul play, so it is likely Barrett drowned.

His family reported him missing around 7:30pm, shortly after they arrived at the campground. Less than 24 hours later, his body was found.

With two lakes and dozens of trails, State Police had a lot of terrain to search on foot and by helicopter, but it was State Police Divers who found him in a lake.

Sources tell NEWS10 that Barrett wandered away from his campground, a behavior that is typical of people with autism.

"A lot of autistic children like to wander," said Cindy Hermann with the Autism Society of America, "The child's there one minute happily playing and the next minute you look around and they're gone."

Hermann, herself, has an autistic son and says whether it's a campground or a neighborhood, it takes a community to look after an afflicted child because they often lack fear, especially around busy streets or water.

"They just have a fearlessness about them, which can be scary," Hermann told NEWS10.

Barrett's body is now at Saint Peter's Hospital in Albany, where an autopsy is expected to be performed.