Skip navigation

Calls to Action

The Avonte Oquendo Tragedy: One Year Later

October 03, 2014

NEW YORK (Oct 4, 2014) -- One year ago today, Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old boy with autism, ran out the door of his school in Long Island City.  His disapearance sparked a city-wide search and national headlines about the serious problem of wandering in the autism community.

The case ended in tragedy when police discovered his remains in the East River three months later. His case also spurred a national dialog on wandering and lead to a partnership between Autism Speaks and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  Since then the two organizations have cooperated on 104 new cases of autism-related wandering. 

"Our thoughts continue to be with Avonte's family.  Avonte's death is a painful reminder that there is so much more that must to be done to protect and to keep safe those with autism that are prone to wandering," says Lisa Goring, Executive Vice President of Family Services at Autism Speaks.

 "Tragically we have seen far too many more cases like this one since Avonte's disappearance. The safety of this vulnerable group must be insured in our schools, in their homes and out in the community."

Wandering by children with autism is common, dangerous and puts tremendous stress on families. Autism Speaks wants to remind families of the resources available and the advice to follow to keep your children safe. See 7 Steps You Can Take to Prevent Wandering at Your Child’s School and find more wandering resources here.