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.
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.