Texas Rescue Group May Join Search for Missing Autistic Teen
LONG ISLAND CITY — A high-profile, high-tech search and recovery organization from Texas may join the effort to locate missing autistic teen Avonte Oquendo.
Tim Miller, the director of Texas EquuSearch, traveled to the city Friday at the request of Oquendo's family, to determine whether his group can help with the search for the teen, who was last seen Oct. 4.
"Tim will find out what [the NYPD's] got. Find out what they might not have that we have," said EquuSearch case manager Frank Black, who added that they could also help the family organize volunteers. The group did not ask to be paid to join the search, the family said.
Texas Equusearch, which was founded in 2000, uses sonar equipment and night vision cameras, as well as unmanned drones that can take 200 to 300 photos a minute, to locate missing people, Black said.
The organization assisted in the 2008 search for 2-year-old Caylee Anthony in Florida, and the 2005 effort to find 18-year-old Natalee Holloway, who went missing in Aruba. Both the teen and the baby were ultimately found dead.
"We tell families, never give up hope. I hope we can help bring some success to it," he said.
Amtrak police also joined the search Friday, after the NYPD requested Amtrak look through their maintenance yard in Long Island City, a company spokesman said.
Police said the search in that location was not based on a tip, but part of the broad search for Avonte.
The teen has been missing since Oct. 4, when he was seen leaving his school at 1-50 51 Ave. in Long Island City. Over the past two weeks, family, volunteers and police have cooperated in a large-scale search for the 14-year-old, who is autistic and cannot speak.
When last seen, Oquendo was wearing a gray striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers, police said. He is 5-foot-3 and weighs 125 pounds.
Avonte's brother, Daniel Detrick Oquendo, 26, told DNAinfo his family is trying to stay positive.
"We really want this weekend to be the weekend we find him," he said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD's Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS. The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at WWW.NYPDCRIMESTOPPERS.COM or by texting their tips to 274637(CRIMES), then entering TIP577.