Casualties, Drowning

UPDATE: 11-year-old boy with autism who drowned in pond reported missing before

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — An 11-year-old boy with autism who drowned in a neighborhood pond Thursday morning had wandered away from home before.

Bryan Wilson — known as B.J. to his friends and family — was reported missing on Thursday morning, after he wandered away from his home in the Valley Station area.

He was eventually found in a nearby pond near Galston Boulevard and James Madison Way. He was taken to Norton Children’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The Jefferson County Coroner’s office says his cause of death is a probable accidental drowning.

But it wasn’t the first time Wilson had wandered from home. He was reported missing last month — and WDRB covered that story when a JCPS teacher found him on the street and took to Facebook Live in an effort to find his parents. In that case, she was able to use social media to reunite Wilson with his family.

Unfortunately, Thursday’s incident ended with a tragic outcome.

But close family friends say this is not a case of bad parenting — just a curious young boy with autism who was prone to wander in an effort to experience more in life.

In fact, friends say the family had moved into the area last week in order to give Wilson a better place to live, where he could play in a house with a fully fenced-in yard. In fact, friends say Wilson’s parents did everything they possibly could to keep Wilson from wandering off, going so far as to place his shoes high and out of reach, because they say he wouldn’t leave the house without him.

But he somehow got out of the house early Thursday morning while his parents were sleeping. A short time later, he was found in the pond.

“He was an amazing kid,” sobbed Carrie Miller, a friend of Wilson’s. “He was an amazing kid.”

“As beautiful as life is with a heart beside it with BJ’s name,” said Will Miller. “If you knew BJ, and everybody that did know BJ is probably feeling the way we do right now. It’s probably the worst feeling. But he was the best kid.”

Now friends are wanting to keep Wilson’s legacy alive by supporting the autistic community. They say they want more placed for disabled children to play and more activities for them.

A GoFundMe has been set up to raise funds for Wilson’s funeral and burial. To access it, CLICK HERE.

Residents of the neighborhood have recently complained about broken fences around the pond, with some not even knowing the ponds was there.

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