Austin, Texas – The Texas House on Tuesday approved a bill that would institute a new alert in Texas, inspired by the death of 7-year-old Wise County girl Athena Strand.
The so-called “Athena Alert” bill would allow law enforcement agencies to issue alerts in the region if a child goes missing, even if there is no confirmation of an abduction, which they are required to issue and AMBER Alert.
Delivery boy Tanner Horner is accused of abducting and killing Athena Strand after hitting the girl with his van in December 2022. Horner has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Strand was found to be missing Wednesday night, but an AMBER alert was not issued until Thursday afternoon.
The notice went out Thursday even though the sheriff had no evidence to indicate she had been kidnapped, meaning the case did not meet the requirements for an AMBER notice.
RELATED COVERAGE: Athena Strand
House Bill 3556, written by Rep. Lynn Stucky (R-Sanger), seeks to shorten the time between a missing child and a statewide AMBER alert being issued.
If the bill passes, law enforcement could activate an alert for a 100-mile radius and for nearby counties where a child is believed to have last been seen.
HB3556 passed the House by a vote of 142-0, with two Representatives present abstaining from voting.
Now it moves to the Senate, where state senators Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) and Angela Paxton (R-McKinney) will carry the bill.
If passed, it will move to the Governor’s desk.