Avonte Oquendo: Teen Mourned After Tragic LossBy: Toni Matthews-El - January 27, 2014
On Saturday, Avonte Oquendo’s funeral was held, an end to a tragedy where many questions remain unanswered. The story began over three months ago, when on October 4th, the 14-year-old walked away from the Riverview School in Queens, NY and was never seen alive again.
Oquendo was autistic and known for wandering away if not watched, which has since begged the question how it is that no one was monitoring him. Or even more startling, how long it took the school to inquire about his whereabout and involve police.
“They knew that he runs away during transitions,” said David Perecman, who is the New York city lawyer that is representing Avonte Oquendo’s family. “Yet he managed to get off that line.”
Perecman also points out that he had never heard of a school misplacing or losing a special needs child.
“People lose their keys. People lose their wallet. Losing a child?”
The lost child wasn’t found until three months after he first disappeared, his remains pulled from the East River.
An especially terrible end as it was known that Oquendo was afraid of water.
It is still unknown at present what happened to the missing teen after he vanished. Police are still investigating the matter of how he died. While there were reportedly no signs of foul play, his family noted that he was found in underwear that was too large for him. This leads them to believe that someone took him at some point.
Regardless of whether or not Avonte Oquendo will turn out to be the victim of a murderer, his disappearance suggests that there was a lapse in attention and diligence by his school that wasted precious hours.
Oquendo’s family filed a notice of claim in October, when he first went missing, and are planning a “wrongful death” lawsuit against the city.
Though Oquendo will be laid to rest before questions are immediately answered, perhaps more will be learned in the coming weeks that can offer clarity and closure.
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