Family of drowned autistic student receives $2.7M in wrongful death lawsuit settlement

File photo/QNS

Almost three years after 14-year-old Avonte Oquendo was found dead, New York City will pay the family $2.7 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.

In October 2013, an autistic student, Oquendo, vanished from Riverview School in Long Island City. Three months later, his body was found washed up on a beach in College Point, nine miles away from the school, after he drowned in East River.

The wrongful death suit accused school officials and the NYPD safety division for negligence for failing to watch the exit doors and not supervising the teen who had a history of being a flight risk.

The family may also be able to find solace in the fact that laws were changed due to their child’s death.

“Kevin and Avonte’s Law” was recently introduced. It was named after Oquendo and autistic 9-year-old Kevin Curtis Wills, who wandered from his home and drowned in Iowa’s Raccoon River in 2008.

“This bipartisan bill applies proven community alert systems to help locate people with Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism and related disorders who may be susceptible to wandering away from safety. It also supports training for first responders and other community officials to better prevent and respond to these cases,” explained Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley.

According to a recent national survey, a third of school-age children with autism had wandered away from caregivers.

The story was first reported by The Daily News.


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