Tag Archives: Austism Speaks

Boy in subway photo not missing teen Avonte Oquendo


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photo by Liam La Guerre

After a photo showing a boy on the subway that resembled Avonte Oquendo emerged online Tuesday, police have confirmed it was not the autistic teen who has been missing for close to four weeks, according to reports.

A teenage boy posted on his Facebook a photo of who he believed resembled Avonte riding a F train Tuesday afternoon, according to reports. The image showed the side view of a boy sitting down wearing a tan jacket, green pants, and staring straight ahead. The teen reportedly said he asked the boy if he was Avonte and received no answer.

Police reportedly located the pictured boy and said it was not the missing autistic teen.

Avonte, 14, was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4. There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school, said the family’s attorney, David Perecman.

Since Avonte went missing, the reward has increased to $95,000. The reward money includes the support of Health First, the employer of the missing teen’s mother, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, David Perecman of the Perecman Firm, Mayerson & Associates, a New York Law Firm which represents individuals with autism, Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school an anonymous donor, an anonymous donor and other supporters. ­­

Avonte was last seen wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

NYPD may scale back search for missing autistic teen


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

As Avonte Oquendo, the autistic teen last seen leaving his Long Island City school nearly three weeks ago, still remains missing, police may need to scale back their search.

Avonte, 14, was last seen at the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4. There have been conflicting reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school, said the family’s attorney, David Perecman.

According to Avonte’s grandmother, the security guard appointed to the front of the school said she had seen Avonte running towards the door, asked him where he was going and after he did not respond, she just allowed him to leave because she did not know he was a special needs student. Yet, according to Perecman, no student at the school is allowed to leave the property until dismissal.

Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, previously told The Courier the school “failed her” when they took close to an hour to inform her that her son had gone missing.

However, according to reports, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the school safety officer did nothing wrong.

On Monday, Kelly also reportedly said the NYPD may have to scale back its search for the teen.

The NYPD has had more than 100 officers searching the streets daily for the boy, who family says loves trains, and looking for him by helicopter and with divers. The police have also been driving around in patrol cars and search vans with loudspeakers playing Avonte’s mother’s voice.

Avonte’s family has also sought help from the Texas Equusearch Mounted Search and Recovery Team, a group of volunteers that have assisted in finding numerous missing people throughout the country.

The team traveled to the site on October 18 to “evaluate the situation” to determine if they have the resources to help search for Avonte.

The family has filed a notice of claim to sue the City of New York for $25 million, citing claims of negligence against both the Department of Education and the Special Security Division which provide the security agents for the school.

An initial $5,000 reward for Avonte’s return was offered by Mayerson & Associates, a New York Law Firm which represents individuals with autism. Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school, announced it was matching the law firm’s offer with an additional $5,000 from the Gelb Family Foundation.

Since then, the reward has increased to $89,500 with the support of Health First, the employer of the missing teen’s mother, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, David Perecman of the Perecman Firm, and an anonymous donor.

Reverend Al Sharpton held a community outreach rally on Saturday, October 19 at the National Action Network headquarters in Manhattan where members of the organization pledged to canvas the city in search of Avonte.

Oquendo was last wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

The NYPD has released a new photo of Avonte together with an image of the shirt he was wearing the day he went missing.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call Crime stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).  The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Mother of missing autistic teen: Son’s school ‘failed me’


By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

ANGY ALTAMIRANO AND CRISTABELLE TUMOLA

The search continues for Avonte Oquendo, who family members say is a shy yet happy, lovable, care-free and loving boy.

Avonte, 14, who is autistic, was last seen leaving the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4.

There have been mixed reports on how the Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate and is supposed to be supervised at all times, managed to leave the school, said the family’s attorney, David Perecman. Some say the boy ran away while there was an altercation between other students in the lunchroom, while others say the teacher and aide lost sight of him while moving from the lunchroom to the classroom.

According to Avonte’s grandmother, the security guard appointed to the front of the school said she had seen Avonte running towards the door, asked him where he was going and after he did not respond, she just allowed him to leave because she did not know he was a special needs student. Yet, according to Perecman, no student at the school is allowed to leave the property until dismissal.

Perecman said it took the school close to an hour to inform the boy’s mother that he had been missing.

“They failed me, they really did. [They’re] supposed to be a second parent, when you put you kid in school for the day and until they get home. They failed me as a school,” said Vanessa Fontaine, Avonte’s mother. “Now the school system is not trusted. They shouldn’t have waited an hour to notify me that my son was not there.”

The Department of Education decline to comment, saying it is a police matter.
Avonte’s family held a vigil on Friday, October 11 in front of the school, right next to two tents that have worked as “ground zero” for the family to gather volunteers, hand out flyers and serve as an information center.

Daniel Oquendo, the boy’s father who has been at the site with his older son, Daniel, said people have come from all over the city and outside of New York to lend a helping hand.
“It kind of gives you hope for mankind,” he said. “We appreciate everything everyone is doing, we see the love and we appreciate it.”

The NYPD has officers searching the streets daily for the boy, who family says loves trains, and looking for him by helicopter and with divers.

The family has filed a notice of claim to sue the City of New York for $25 million, taking claims of negligence against both the Department of Education and the Special Security Division which provide the security agents for the school.

“Time is of the essence and they did not make use of the time appropriately,” said Perecman.

“There are lots of questions and no answers and no Avonte.”

An initial $5,000 reward for Avonte’s return was offered by Mayerson & Associates, a New York Law Firm which represents individuals with autism. Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school, announced it was matching the law firm’s offer with an additional $5,000 from the Gelb Family Foundation.

Since then, the reward has increased to $70,000 through the support of Health First, the employer of the missing teen’s mother, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, David Perecman of the Perecman Firm, and an anonymous donor, according to Autism Speaks.

Oquendo was last wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. He is 5’3” tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Photo courtesy of NYPD

 

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES

Reward for safe return of missing Queens teen increased to $70K


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of NYPD

Updated Saturday, October 11, 8:01 a.m.

The family of a missing autistic Queens teen held a vigil for him Friday as the reward for his safe return was increased to $70,000.

An initial $5,000 reward was offered by Mayerson & Associates, a New York Law Firm which represents individuals with autism. Manhattan Children’s Center, a nonprofit private autism school, announced Thursday it was matching the law firm’s offer with an additional $5,000 from the Gelb Family Foundation.

The reward was increased to $70,000 through the support of Health First, the employer of the missing teen’s mother, Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, David Perecman of the Perecman Firm, which is representing the boy’s family, and an anonymous donor, according to Autism Speaks.

Avonte Oquendo, 14, was last seen leaving the Center Boulevard School at 1-50 51st Avenue in Long Island City around 12:38 p.m. on Friday, October 4.

The Rego Park teen, who cannot verbally communicate, somehow managed to escape the school, though he is reportedly supposed to be supervised at all times.

The family, according to published reports, has filed a notice of claim to sue city, and has said that a security guard at the school saw their son leave but didn’t stop him and waited a long time to let the child’s mother know that he was missing.

Oquendo was last wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers. Oquendo is 5’3″ tall and weighs 125 pounds.

Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website or can text their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

A vigil for the missing teen was held at 5 p.m. Friday across from his school.

Video via YouTube/Autism Speaks

 

RECOMMENDED STORIES