Family intensifies search for missing autistic boy after false report of discovery
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NBC New York – The family of a missing 14-year-old mute autistic boy is intensifying their search for him after a false alarm Tuesday when police initially reported they’d found him.
Avonte Oquendo was last seen leaving Center Boulevard School in Long Island City at around 12:45 p.m. Friday. Surveillance video showed him running from the school, and his family has been pleading for help finding him.
“He cannot communicate at all,” said the boy’s brother, Daniel Oquendo Jr., who flew in from Orlando Tuesday to organize the latest search. “He can’t tell someone if he is hungry, if he is lost. He can’t say his name.”
Daniel Oquendo Jr. said the family is focusing their search underground, particularly in Queens where most of the tips have been originating.
“He does ride the trains from here to get to school. Always with someone, but that’s how he gets to and from school,” he said.
In addition to the subways, the family is searching empty warehouses and diners.
Police had said Tuesday that Oquendo had been found after someone called police and reported seeing him in East Harlem. About 20 minutes later, police said they had been mistaken, that the child was not him.
“There was someone who fit the description, and I believe he might have been autistic and non-verbal as well,” said Oquendo Jr. “I don’t know what the odds are that they found someone also like that, and looks like him.”
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