Man With Autism Climbs Fence At NY Group Home, Drowns in Pool: Officials

A Long Island man with autism drowned Wednesday after climbing a fence at his group home and falling into a pool, officials said. 

The administrator of the group home in Plandome said the man, 22, scaled the 6-foot fence and ended up in a neighbor's pool. Several staffers ran around the fence and pulled the man out of the pool, but they were unable to resuscitate him. 

The Nassau Mental Health Association, which runs the group home, said that there was nothing the staff could do to save the man.

"He took them so by surprise and just bolted up so quickly," said Marcia Spector, the association's interim executive director. "They couldn't pull him down."

State mental health officials couldn't comment on the case, but said that the group home was in good standing with the state.

The case is reminiscent of the death of Avonte Oquendo, the New York City boy who wandered away from school in 2013 and was found drowned in the East River months later.

A spokesman for Autism Speaks, a national group that sponsors autism research and conducts outreach about the developmental disorder, said that drowning was a leading cause of death for people with autism. The spokesman said that some people with autism are drawn to water. 

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