Vigil marks one year anniversary when autistic teen, Avonte Oquendo wandered from school

Avonte Oquendo

Avonte Oquendo

— Avonte Oquendo wandred from his  NYC high school a year ago on October 4. Avonte, 14 had nonverbal autism and sadly his body was found in the East River in January this year. Autism Daily Newscast reported on many occasions about the search for Avonte, that took a 1oo days, and eventually on the tragic event when his body was found. Our report can be read here.

On Saturday, Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, attended a vigil for Avonte along with friends, family and volunteers. She thanked all of the volunteers who helped search for her son. She also voiced that further reforms are needed as the education system at present is broken, this allowed her son to leave school unobserved. He walked through a door that should have been locked.

In an emotional speech she said:

 “We all miss him so much. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish he was here. And because of the neglect by these employees from the school, I don’t have my son.”

A report that was released in March, found many errors on the part of the school that led to this tragic incident. The report however did not recommend any disciplinary action on the part of the school, the findings have been referred to the office of the Queen’s district attorney and city and state education officials, who will be reviewing the information.

Fontaine also called for those involved in the loss of her son, to lose their jobs.

During the vigil blue balloons were released and poetry was read.

Bonnie Kiladitis took part in the vigil. Her 10 year old son, Bradyn, has autism and attends the same school, Riverview School. She said:

 “Everyone must be as safe as possible. This can never, never happen again.”

The original article by Colleen Long on The State website can be read here