March for Safety remembers Avonte Oquendo on anniversary of disappearance

By Bill Parry

Family and friends will remember Avonte Oquendo on the second anniversary of his disappearance with a “March for Safety” to promote autism awareness Saturday. They will gather at The Riverview School in Long Island City where the 14-year-old autistic student disappeared through an unlocked side door on Oct. 4, 2013.

The marchers will proceed into Hunters Point South Park where Oquendo was believed to have entered the East River. After an exhaustive, three-month search, Oquendo’s body was discovered on the shore of the East River in College Point.

The tragedy inspired Avonte’s Law in New York City, which requires the Department of Education to evaluate the need for door alarms at city schools.

“We’re a year into Avonte’s Law and we still haven’t received any verification,” David Perecman, the Oquendo family’s attorney, said. “We want to remind the government that they provided this law and we want to see it enacted. There are children with autism and special needs that need to be protected.”

Perecman added that the march will support Sen. Charles Shumer’s proposed federal Avonte’s Law, which would create a voluntary tracking program for children with autism and others prone to wandering from caregivers.

The march begins at 1 p.m.

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparry@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4538.