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Memorial Set to Remember Avonte Oquendo, Raise Awareness for School Safety

By Jeanmarie Evelly | September 29, 2015 2:56pm
 Avonte Oquendo
Avonte Oquendo
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HUNTERS POINT — A memorial will be held next week to remember Avonte Oquendo, the autistic 14-year-old whose disappearance from school in 2013 sparked a citywide search that ended tragically months later when his remains were discovered on a beach in Queens.

The ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. on Oct. 10 at the waterfront Hunters Point South Park, across the street from the Riverview School where Avonte went missing. It will honor the late teenager as well as raise awareness for school safety, according to an attorney for Avonte's family.

"It's number one, a day to remember Avonte," said lawyer David Perecman, who is representing the family in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the city last year.

He said the memorial also aims to draw attention to efforts to increase security at school buildings, advocating for the passing of Avonte's Law, a bill proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer that would fund voluntary tracking devices for autistic children who have a tendency to wander or run away.

The City Council also passed separate legislation last year, also called Avonte's Law, under which the city is installing security alarms on the doors of nearly all its school buildings by the end of 2015.

Avonte, who was autistic and nonverbal, wandered away from his class and out a door that had been left open at the Riverview School on Oct. 4, 2013. Avonte's mother had warned a teacher at the school that her son had a tendency to run, a city investigation later found.

The teenager's remains were discovered more than three months later on a beach in College Point.