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Mother of woman who drowned pushes for legal action to help adults with autism who go missing

Posted at 2:18 PM, Dec 24, 2020

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The mother of a 29-year-old woman who drowned wants a Virginia missing persons law changed to help protect adults with autism.

Born with autism, Jamile Hill came into this world fighting with the help of her mother, Shawn Eure-Wilson.

"I made her very knowledgeable and proud of her differences,” Eure-Wilson said.

Jamile dealt with many challenges, both physical and mental, but she continued to defy the odds while listening to the advice from her mom.

“You've got to take what lemons you have and you have got to make lemonade. It may not be the sweetest, but you still got to make lemonade,” Eure-Wilson said.

Jamile participated in different activities such as the Special Olympics, ballet, tap, jazz, speed skating, basketball and many other clubs. Her mother said she enrolled her in as many different groups to expose her to others as much as she could.

Eure-Wilson said Jamile earned her two-year degree in social sciences from Tidewater Community College and was in the process of working towards her four-year degree.

But tragedy stuck on the evening of October 17 when Jamile went missing. Her mom said she likely went for a walk at around 7:30 p.m.

Eure-Wilson called police and wanted an alert sent out, but said the case didn’t meet the criteria for an Ashanti Alert because law enforcement didn’t think Jamile had been abducted.

There’s a new law on the books in Virginia that creates an alert system for missing children with autism, but Jamile was 29 years old, so she didn’t qualify for that alert.

Law enforcement sent out information about 12 hours after she was reported missing.

Two days after Jamile went missing, her body was found. Her mom said she had balance issues and likely accidentally fell and drowned in the 4500 block of Bainbridge Boulevard in Chesapeake.

Eure-Wilson said she would like for the law to have formal guidelines for cases that involve missing adults with autism, and has been working with Delegate Cliff Hayes about the issue.

“I plan to introduce legislation to strike from the code the word 'child' and just insert the word 'person,'" Hayes said. "This is a problem that needs a solution, and this is one of the ways that we can actually solve this problem.”

Hayes said the bill is in the drafting phase right now.

Eure-Wilson said she will continue to fight for her daughter and others with autism.

"Her life and her passing is not going to be in vain,” Eure-Wilson said.

This Christmas, they are remembering the beautiful woman who led by example, helped others overcome their challenges and wanted everyone to be treated equally regardless of differences.

“Her life is a blessing. Her light in life is going to continue to be a blessing,” Eure-Wilson said.