Bad scare over missing girl raises questions about Amber Alert status
May 2, 2005
Though an Amber Alert was never issued, Carson City and Reno news stations vigorously broadcast a young girl’s description for nearly two hours before she was found safe and asleep in her father’s van, said Sheriff Kenny Furlong.
“We were trying to meet the criteria for an Amber Alert, but even after two hours, we still didn’t have enough,” said the sheriff said Monday.
Adriana Alvarado, 6, apparently climbed into the back of her father’s van while the family moved from one home to another Sunday. Her 13-year-old sister told police Adriana disappeared from the front yard on Wendy Drive when the elder girl went inside to get a jacket. Someone said they’d heard a car racing away from the scene at about the same time.
The first call to police came at 3:52 p.m. Deputies sped to the area. A command post was set up in the Wells Fargo parking lot on Highway 50 East. Television news crews swarmed the location, broadcasting Adriana’s description and photograph. Search-and-rescue crews were on standby.
Just after 7 p.m., Adriana’s father found her asleep in the back of the van he was driving in the search for her, said Furlong.
Despite the lack of an Amber Alert, media outlets in Northern Nevada did what they do – broadcast the news and Adriana’s description.
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“They all jumped right in and took it very, very serious. It was extremely beneficial to us,” Furlong said.
The only question that remains in his mind is one he’s been asked time and again since Sunday’s scare. Why was the incident not broadcast as an Amber Alert?
According to the Nevada Amber Alert Web site, there are four criteria for activation:
• The investigating law enforcement agency confirms an abduction has occurred.
• The victim is 17 years of age or younger, or has a proven mental or physical disability.
• The victim is in imminent danger of serious injury or death.
• There is information available that, if provided to the public, could assist in the child’s safe recovery.
Amber Alert is not intended for cases involving runaways or parental abduction, except in life-threatening situations.
Furlong said although a car was heard leaving the scene, there was no way to confirm an abduction occurred.
“Up to the point of locating her, we just did not have the information that would have allowed us to determine that it had been an abduction, although we were fearful,” Furlong said. “We are extremely thankful things happened the way they did. I can’t tell you how scared we were moments before dad drove in with the little girl.”
Amber Alert is a voluntary partnership between law-enforcement agencies and the media to activate urgent bulletins in the most serious child-abduction cases.
Broadcasters air a description of the missing child and suspected abductor. The Nevada Appeal will immediately post the same information on its Web site.
Since its adoption in Nevada in 2003, there have been 16 Amber Alert activations involving 23 children, with 21 of them safely recovered.
Carson City has issued one Amber Alert, in June 2004, after a mother and boyfriend had argued at an area fast-food restaurant and the man left in the vehicle with the child strapped inside. The girl was returned unharmed three hours later. According to Carson City Justice Court records, no charges were filed against the man.
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