The search has stopped. The 14-year-old autistic boy that volunteers, cops and family members have been combing New York City streets for for three months has been discovered. Avonte Oquendo’s body parts and clothing has been found washed ashore on the East River in Queens. DNA confirmed that the body parts–left arm, legs and torso–were a match for Avonte yesterday evening.
For obvious reasons, it’s a punch in the gut to family members and volunteers, who persevered through the changing seasons and loss of interest by law enforcement, determined to find the little boy whose love of trains tempted him to wander off like this before.
This time was different. He wasn’t found at any of the 468 subway stations in NYC or anywhere else. Until now. It’s not the happy ending we all hoped, prayed and wished for. But a small part of me is grateful he was at least found, because now the family has found closure.
Actress Holly Robinson-Peete, who has an autistic child and runs a foundation dedicated to autism, visited Avonte’s family last year, offered these sullen and sharp words to those listening:
Rest with angels, Sweet baby boy. I am so sorry that adults failed you that day. I am so sorry you were not protected in a place that was supposed to protect and look out for you as you ran into a world you couldn’t navigate on your own… I pray for your family that they have courage and strength to endure this agony. I pray that NO OTHER FAMILY ever has to endure such an unthinkable and preventable tragedy. 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏#ripavonteoquendo#autism #wandering #wakeUP
R.I.P Avonte, may your death not be held in vain.