Last Friday, 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo walked out of the Riverview School in the Long Island City section of Queens. He has not been seen since, and the weeklong search for him continues.
Oquendo, who has a severe form of autism that prevents him from being able to take care of himself or communicate verbally, was seen on a surveillance camera running through the school's hallway and then out into the street. Though the search is ongoing, authorities tell the New York Times that clues are few and far between.
After being informed by Avonte's family that he liked trains, police took to searching subway stations. Power between the Grand Central Terminal and Vernon-Jackson Avenues stop on the No. 7 line were cut on Monday as they combed the tracks for him.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said police received a tip that Avonte had been seen near a diner in Astoria on Monday night, but they were unable to find the boy. Police also believed they had found him on Tuesday, but it turned out to be another missing child.
"A few of us got there to the hospital and realized it’s not him," said his brother, Daniel Oquendo. "It hurts because you do want things to end, but somebody’s child was found—just not ours—but we’ll continue to pray and look."
His family remains dumbfounded as to how he was able to walk out of the school with such ease when he was in special education classes, which are padded with extra adult supervision. The Times reports that the family's attorney, David H. Perecman, filed a claim against the city for negligence on Wednesday. This is the first step to filing a lawsuit against both the city and the school.
Avonte's is described as 5'3" and 125 pounds. He was last seen wearing a grey striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is encouraged to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers hot line at 1-800-577-TIPS.
[via New York Times]