Tag Archives: Avonte

Avonte Oquendo’s mom files suit against city: reports


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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The mother of Avonte Oquendo has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city, charging various agencies and individuals with negligence leading to the death of the 14-year-old autistic teen, according to published reports.

Vanessa Fontaine reportedly filed the suit last week in Queens Supreme Court blaming the Department of Education, NYPD and members of Avonte’s Long Island City school for her son’s death.

Among the Center Boulevard School individuals are school safety agent Bernadette Perez and principal Susan McNulty, reports said.

The 14-year-old was last seen at the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City across the street from the East River last October. Surveillance footage caught the teen running through the halls unsupervised before leaving the building. Almost four months later his remains were found washed up in College Point.

The lawsuit does not have a dollar amount, according to reports, however family attorney David Perecman previously said the family would be seeking $25 million.

 

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New footage shows Avonte Oquendo tried to escape day before disappearance: reports


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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Newly released video surveillance footage shows teen Avonte Oquendo tried to run away from his class just a day before he dashed out of his school never to be seen again, according to published reports.

The 14-year-old autistic teen had tried to escape October 3 when he was being brought down from the fifth floor to the second floor of the Riverview School in Long Island City with group of students. Avonte broke away from the group and ran to the first floor, revealed NYPD documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reports said.

The Riverview School shares space in the building known as the Hunters Point Campus across the street from the East River.

The day of his disappearance, Avonte was heading back from the cafeteria with a group of students and three school employees when he slipped away. He was last seen through surveillance footage running out of the school. Almost four months later his remains were found washed up in College Point.

A report previously released by the Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District investigation says Vanessa Fontaine, Avonte’s mother, expressed her concerns to her son’s teacher about him being a “runner.” The teacher never shared the information with school administrators, the report said.

The investigation also found Avonte ran out of the building through a door left opened by an unidentified man.

 

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Avonte Oquendo’s brother shares family’s experience, thanks volunteers in blog post


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

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One of Avonte Oquendo’s older brothers is sharing what his family went through in the four months during the 14-year-old’s disappearance.

“Every minute we spent in the dark about the whereabouts felt like years of torture,” wrote Daniel Oquendo Jr. in a March 21 blog post for the advocacy organization Autism Speaks.

He recounted the fear and pain his family felt as they tried to find Avonte, who was autistic and could not verbally communicate. He described how during the first few days the family did not sleep, barely ate and felt as if they had nowhere to turn.

The teen was last seen at the Center Boulevard School in Long Island City across the street from the East River last October. Almost four months later his remains were found washed up in College Point.

According to Oquendo, Avonte entered a frightened and panic state after running out of his school and possibly jumped into the East River and drowned. The medical examiner has ruled the cause and manner of Avonte’s death as undetermined.

Oquendo wrote that as his family was “overcome with grief and hopelessness,” they turned to the people of New York City to work together and gather volunteers to search for Avonte. As word began to spread, they encountered help through New Yorkers and out of state volunteers, who he thanked for all their dedication and prayers.

“It turns out that before it was all said and done Avonte did indeed become the beloved son of the city,” Oquendo wrote.

 

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