RICHMOND (WRIC) - Advocates are pushing for more parents to sign up for a lifesaving program following the disappearance of two area boys with autism.
Project Lifesaver is a nationwide program and has a 100 percent success rate in the nearly 2,500 searches done using it. The one ounce tracking device is worn like a wristwatch and if the person wearing it goes missing, a radio frequency can lead law enforcement officials right to them.
13-year-old Nicholas Jermaine Smith disappeared around 8:30 Sunday morning. One day later, 12-year-old Yurik Jones went missing for more than seven hours, before finally being found safe at a Krispy Kreme store.
Kelly Domaleski has a son with autism, saying the past two days have just been reminders of her worst nightmare.
"It's a constant worry not knowing if your son is going to get away from you or someone else," she says. "He's nonverbal and if he were to wander off he wouldn't be able to tell you his name, where he's from, he doesn't understand danger."
But Domaleski signed her son up for Project Lifesaver after Robbie Wood went missing for nearly a week in Hanover County more than a year ago. Both Smith and Jones were found hours after disappearing but advocates say they could have been found much sooner had either child been wearing a project lifesaver bracelet.
Tammy Burns with the autism society of Central Virginia says while they're doing what they can to get the word out. Many parents of kids with autism still don't know about the bracelet that helps police track lost kids.
"The information about project lifesaver is not out to everyone who may need it," she says. "You know your child might be one of those kids who could get lost or could get separated from you, project lifesaver can literally be a lifesaver."
While they're extremely relieved both cases ended positively, things could have turned out much worse.
"It just takes one major problem and they could be gone."
Most localities offer Project Lifesaver in Central Virginia. Some charge, while others offer the program for free.
For more information, go to projectlifesaver.org.
Copyright 2014 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond