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OK 7 Year Old with Autism Savannah Martin Wanders, Drowns

Savannah martin
There are those on the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee who continue to fight making autism wandering death a priority. Your tax dollars at work.  Our hearts and prayers go out to the Martin family, who lost this beautiful girl in a pond. There but for the grace of God go all of our precious children. Click HERE for the original article in The Oklahoman.  There is a blog that memorializes those who have died or been murdered because of their autism, we invite you to share it with others so that they know that autism is indeed life threatening for many. It's called Lives Lost to Autism. For those adults with HFA and Asperger's who may be offended by the insinuation that autism is deadly, accept our apologies, but remember that for many of us, the fear and threat of death for our kids looms every single day. "...Beth Martin climbed a barbed-wire fence to get to the pond, but was not strong enough to get her daughter to the bank, Sanchez said."

Girl, 7, who drowned in Lawton had struggled to overcome autism

A girl who drowned in a Lawton pond struggled with autism but had learned to talk. She was also trying to learn to swim. Her 2-year-old brother was rescued from the pond and has been released from a hospital.
BY ROBERT MEDLEY [email protected] Oklahoman  
Published: February 23, 2011

LAWTON — Doctors once said Savannah Martin would never talk, but she defied the early diagnosis and started to speak. Then she learned to read. She even tried to learn to swim.

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Girl, 7, who drowned in Lawton had struggled to overcome autism

But on Sunday, Savannah, 7, who was autistic, slipped away from her home in Lawton and headed for a chilly pond nearby. Her brother, Tommy Martin, 2, who was wearing a bicycle helmet, may have followed her to the pond, said the children's' aunt, Ruth Sanchez, 35.

Savannah was found face down in the pond, which was about 50 yards from her home. Her brother was floating upright next to her, buoyed by the Styrofoam in his helmet.

“We can't believe this little angel is gone,” Sanchez said.

The children's mother, Beth Martin, 31, swam into the pond but was unable to pull her daughter out of the water. A neighbor, Hector Figueroa, 45, swam in and pulled both children to the bank.

It was too late to save Savannah, despite her mother's efforts to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Lawton firefighters also tried CPR, but Savannah was pronounced dead at Southwestern Medical Center.

Tommy Martin has been released from OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where he was treated for hypothermia, a hospital spokesman said Tuesday.

Lawton police Capt. Craig Akard said he doesn't know how long the children were in the water. He said officers are still interviewing witnesses and he couldn't comment on the investigation.

Beth Martin had recently separated from her husband, Thomas Martin, who is in the Oklahoma National Guard, and had been looking for a new place to live because of concerns about the pond, said Sanchez, who is Beth Martin's sister.

Beth Martin wanted to get a house with an alarm system because Savannah had recently figured out how to unlock doors, Sanchez said.

Savannah was diagnosed as autistic when she was 2, Sanchez said. Her mother worked to get her daughter to speak. But Savannah had not quite gotten the hang of swimming.

“She loved the water and playing in the bathtub and swimming. Water was a big draw to her, just the movement of it and the shimmering of the water in the sun outside,” she said.

A family friend, Juliet Burk, of Tahlequah, said Beth Martin worked doggedly with her daughter, even traveling to therapists in upstate New York.

She said Savannah started to say a few words and short sentences by the time she was 5.

In a Feb. 8 Facebook post, Beth Martin wrote: “Savannah looked at me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Give me a hug!' And ran into my arms. Can never thank those in her life that have helped get her to this point enough. Your work is never unnoticed or forgotten.”

Sanchez said her niece was on track to be mainstreamed into a first-grade class at Cache Elementary School. Once a week, Sanchez drove Savannah to the ACI Learning Center in Edmond, a therapy school for autistic children.

“Savannah had made tremendous strides,” Sanchez said. “She'd come home and give us hugs and kisses.”

Savannah loved Disney princesses and fairies and her favorite singer was Taylor Swift. Her brother Tommy was her “cohort,” who would go everywhere with her, Sanchez said.

About 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Beth Martin couldn't find the children in the house and ran to the pond, but didn't see them at first, Sanchez said. Then their older brother, Tristen, 11, went to the pond and heard them screaming.

Beth Martin climbed a barbed-wire fence to get to the pond, but was not strong enough to get her daughter to the bank, Sanchez said.

Martin went into shock at the hospital and has not been able to talk about her daughter's death, Sanchez said.

“Beth had told me she was planning to spend the rest of her life taking care of Savannah so she could give her the best life she could,” Sanchez said

Read more:


Carolyn Gammicchia

In memory of all the lives lost.......someone has finally listened.

We are so happy to announce that our voices have been listened to. The MI Medicaid service manual now lists "Personal Emergency Response Systems" as a covered services under Medicaid. So folks from other states, they are listed on page #87 of the 1-1-2011 manual. See what tenacity can do :-) Now it is written a specific way, but we feel this will be of great benefit for obtaining personal location devices and in home monitoring systems. There is a need for a response center that has trained professionals and the funds will pay for the initial equipment and twelve months of monitoring.!/notes/carolyn-gammicchia/pers-now-being-covered-in-mi-via-state-medicaid-services/498966606861

Carolyn Gammicchia

Marie-Anne Denayer, M.D.

Amy Rhodes' story rattled my failing memory! How could I have forgotten than my Stephanie's first escape was to go check out the STOP sign at the end of our street! Around the time she was 2 years old, Stephanie became fascinated with every STOP signs. She would drag me to them, loved just standing by them and look at them, later she would grab my hand using it as a pointer (another typical manifestation of autism,that eventually vanished. Stephanie has done her "own" pointing for some time),,,and would make me spell out the letters for her.
We actually had STOP signs made out of wood to look like the real thing, planted wherever she might try to escape. It never "stopped" her but at least slowed her down.

Amy Rhodes

My sincere condolences to this girl's family. Such a tragedy! I am so sorry!I can relate to this story, sort of. I too live in Oklahoma. I too have an autistic daughter. My daughter escaped form our garage & ran off at 11 pm at night wearing only a tshirt & (adult) diaper. Luckily, I realized she was missing immediately. I ran outside, couldn't see her, jumped in my car & went to look for her. Luckily, I found her at the stop sign at the end of my street. But for those few seconds, I thought I would die. All of the "what ifs" went through my head.It was the worst feeling EVER!.I immediately made my husband go to Walmart to get several locks for the inside of the door. I now have 6 locks on my front door, 2 on the patio, & 4 on the garage.I thank God everyday that I found my daughter safe.Thank you God!!!!By the way, my daughter is also named Savannah.


Re: Lives Lost to Autism HERE:

The death rates skyrocketed to 26 for 2010. I read just a few but can't keep reading these horrific stories right now. It is making me feel very sick. The IACC and the lawmakers need to read these stories. The ones with a heart may take action, however unfortunately alot of these officials will keep turning their blind eyes because they have no heart.


God help this poor suffering woman and her 2 year old son. This little boy is going to be lost without his sister. I hope this mother has become aware of the vaccine causation of autism since her little boy is 4 times more vulnerable being a male child. What a double tragedy if her son regressed into autism after everything his mother has been through now.

We have slide bolt locks at the very tops of the doors, and also added door chime alarms, $7.00 at Walmart. You can select "alarm" or "chime" mode. Alarm mode is very loud but some people may need that. Chime works well for us because we can hear it whenever the door opens.

We are also trying to figure out how to get a tracking trained autism dog. Depending upon the special training needed for the individual child, IF the child can manage with the basics and tracking, it is possible to buy a dog and have it trained yourself for "basic training". The best breeds for autism training and compatibility are Golden Retrievers and Labs, or even a mixed breed of these two. Many service dog organizations will only accept these two breeds for training, and some will only accept Golden Retrievers. Alot of organizations assist with fund raising and match your funds so even though these dogs cost about $25,000, usually if you can fund raise half this amount you can get a dog, although many groups do have long waiting lists. Therefore we are considering buying our own Golden Retriever and having it trained here locally so that we don't have to wait so long to raise all this money, and then wait again for the dog availability. Although we are still going to have to raise money either way, so it depends on the situation of the family and how urgently the dog is needed. In addition to tracking and tethering, these dogs make a wonderful companion to autistic children, and always have some kind of positive effect on the child's behavior, often quite profound.


I am SO sick that another of our precious Angels has died from Autism! I shudder and correct anyone and everyone that says "autism is not deadly" or shrugs off Autism as the "latest" "cool" diagnosis that is way overly diagnosed....PUKE!

Thanks for sharing the story. Our families know that this isn't a "periodic worry" in our loves but a MINUTE by MINUTE WAY of life, just like breathing for me is the consistent listening and seeking out the kids...if I can't see them directly and have to move awayfor even a few seconds my ears have been trained to hear just about any an every activity possible...bionic hearing or sure! I would do anything to NOT have that part if everything I do literally....I could easily take it to. "periodic" worry at the drop of a hat.

We are working on gettting a service dog that tracks and I wish that it was covered by insurance or something for every wandering special needs child/person....tracking devices oy work when WORN and I knowy child strips a LOT am also can't stand wearing bracelets it anklets or anything...and there are ones that can be sewn into shoes...too bad kids don't allways wear them...AND there are even cool watches and even phones that can track...and let's say the child does wear it, then it depends on cell towers, signal strength, battery power and most important if it's water proof or not!

I feel terrible or this family I hope and pray that we can continue to fight for our Fallen Angels as well as the ones who are out there wandering each and every hour of each day!


My daughter when she was at Savannah Martin's age, looked like her. When I saw this news I felt as if it was my daughter. No parent should go through this kind of hell. How anyone can console Savannah Martin's parents?


'A neighbor, Hector Figueroa, 45, swam in and pulled both children to the bank.'

What a great man to have next door.

Not an MD

My heart has just broken. I feel so sad for Beth. I hope her son can help pull her through this tragedy.


Ranking higher than the human tragedies at Auschwitz:
"Beth Martin climbed a barbed-wire fence to get to the pond, but was not strong enough to get her daughter to the bank, Sanchez said."


Marie-Anne Denayer, M.D.

A parent's worst nightmare.

We were always fortunate in that Stephanie figured out how to float and do the doggy paddle at age 18 months.
She was however an expert escape artist, observing our every move and her siblings' whereabouts, always grasping that split second of inattention on our part to make a run for it.
We called the cops so many times....We were always fortunate that a neighbor would see her and bring her home.

What we did to prevent escapes?
- Hide all the keys in a safe
- Double bolts on the doors leading outside (Don't forget the basement!
- Bolts on all the windows (we had to explain to the fire department why we had to resort to shut windows)
- Installed an 8 foot fence around the backyard and pool
- Notify the neighbors to look out for her.
- Contacted the police Dept to make them aware of Stephanie's situation, so when we had to call them they knew immediately what was going on.
- We live on a dead-end street which is a blessing.
The police installed a sign "Deaf child in area" at the entrance to our street.
- Similarly, the fire Dept knew of Stephanie's situation.

Stephanie would never put up with the tracking devices that are available for "wanderers of all ages". It might however be an option for the higher functioning kids.

So tragic.

Donna L.

My heart just breaks for this poor mother.


US government is owned, run and for big corporates and in particularly Pharmaceuticals and Vaccine makers. They don't have any tax dollars for Autism kids safety and support even they caused through Vaccines. America used to be "heaven on earth". But now, America has become hell for Autism kids.

Concerned Mom

"Beth Martin climbed a barbed-wire fence to get to the pond, but was not strong enough to get her daughter to the bank, Sanchez said."

Good lord, how unthinkably awful. Prayers going up for this family. What I'm wondering, though, is if the mother had to climb a barbed wire fence to get to the pond, how in the world did these poor children get to the pond? Whatever the case, parents need mechanisms put in place to prevent this kind of tragedy. How many more kids does this have to happen to before someone with the power to do something wakes up?


What a beautiful girl. We are thinking about her family today in Tulsa.
Such a sad day here in Oklahoma. And Nick's Law was sent to the legislative graveyard AGAIN.

linda pampuch

Omg this is so sad I feel so bad for this family. My thought prayers and tears r with thw whole family


so sad.. such a beautiful child.

I think whenever story like this appears in the news, we should forward it to Sharon Lewis and others at the IACC who don't think child wandering is a priority.

[email protected].


"Beth Martin climbed a barbed-wire fence to get to the pond, but was not strong enough to get her daughter to the bank, Sanchez said."

Christ this hurts!

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