Teen killed in Niskayuna fire had special needs

Posted at: 01/08/2013 5:26 PM
Updated at: 01/08/2013 6:00 PM
By: Abigail Bleck

NISKAYUNA--The fire at 2241 Niskayuna Drive was likely burning for close to an hour before a neighbor called 911, at 8:21 Friday morning.  Rescue crews pulled Grace Kline from the fire and transported the Van Antwerp Middle School student to the hospital where she later died from smoke inhalation.  The fire started on the first floor kitchen and the heating and electrical systems have been ruled out as causes.

NewsChannel 13 has learned that 14 year old Grace Kline had special needs and her father wasn't home at the time of the fire. 

New York State Law doesn't specify how old a child should be when left alone.  But Child Protective Services does suggest guidelines.

-Kids 11 and under should not be alone for extended periods of time

--Kids 6 and under should never be left alone

"We get a lot of questions (about this), especially during school breaks and during the summer.  As parents try to figure out child care information," explains Jennifer Matrazzo of Prevent Child Abuse New York.  "It leaves it, like a lot of things, up to parental judgement."

Matrazzo adds that the CPS guidelines don't differentiate between a typically developing and special needs child. 

"There are a lot of circumstances when parents would want to consider leaving their child home alone and special needs certainly would be one of them."

Local, County and State authorities are meeting Wednesday to discuss the case.  If warranted, it would be up to the Niskayuna Police to file charges.