"One of the best decisions I had ever made"
- Joseph Lugo
October 4th will mark the second year of the tragic disappearance of 14 year old autistic teenager Avonte Oquendo and family members have organized a March for Safety in Queens. The march will take place on Saturday, October 10th, starting at Hunter's Point South Park in the Long Island City section of Queens.
Avonte, who was non-verbal, disappeared from his school in Queens when he left his lunch group and ran out an open door in his school. No one realized the teen was missing for approximately 18 minutes, several mishaps followed resulting in a two hour delay before an outside search ensued.
After a three month exhaustive search, Avonte’s remains were found near Powells Cove in College Point, Queens in January 2014.
As a result this tragedy and it causing national debate, the City of New York and Mayor Bill de Blasio enacted a local-level Avonte’s Law which will install over 2,000 door alarms in schools throughout the city. Senator Charles Schumer is trying to get Avonte’s Law enacted on the federal level which will develop and fund a program to provide voluntary tracking devices for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities who are prone to bolting from parents or caregivers.
According to attorney David Perecman, “We need to keep the pressure on the city so they equip these schools and finish the job of improving the system.”
This march on October 10th is a poignant tribute to the life of Avonte Oquendo. It also serves as a method to promote autism awareness and let officials know how necessary Avonte’s Law is, especially if it can prevent another tragedy like Avonte’s.