To mark the second anniversary of the death of Avonte Oquendo, an autistic teenager who disappeared from The Riverview School in Long Island City, family members and friends will hold a March for Safety in his honor.
The march will be held on Oct. 10 at Hunters Point South Park in Long Island City.
Oquendo,14, managed to run through a side door of the Center Boulevard school on Oct. 4, 2013. After an extensive three-month search, his remains were found washed up in College Point. The teen’s disappearance spurred elected officials to pass several bills including Avonte’s Law, which requires the city’s Department of Education to evaluate if schools should install alarms on their doors. More than 2,000 alarms are expected to be installed in schools across the city.
State Sen. Charles Schumer introduced a separate bill last January also called Avonte’s Law, which will create and fund a program providing voluntary tracking devices and increase support services for families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or any other developmental conditions in which bolting is common. The program would only include children whose parents choose to use the devices.
Oquendo’s family attorney David Perecman said the march will be held to remember the “needless loss of a young life” and to remind the city to “stay the course” and finish installing alarms in each school that needs one. Perecman also said he hopes that the city and Department of Education hold up another requirement of the bill, which mandates that school safety plans and preventative measures are evaluated by the DOE to make sure an incident like this never happens again.
Perecman also said the march will “lend support to what is currently Senator Schumer’s effort to get Avonte’s Law passed on a federal level.”
Vanessa Fontaine, Oquendo’s mother has filed a wrongful death suit against the city, claiming the city, Department of Education and NYPD were neglectful when they allowed the teenager to leave the school unsupervised.