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The day before Avonte Oquendo disappeared from his school in Long Island City, the teen tried to run away during his class’ lunch break, his family’s lawyer said new documents revealed.
A statement from the teen’s lunch duty teacher said that while he was bringing the students from the fifth floor to the second floor at the end of their lunch break, Avonte tried to run to the first floor, the family’s lawyer, David Perecman, said.
This is exactly what the 14-year-old autistic boy from Rego Park did the day he disappeared from the Riverview School, at 150 51st Ave., Oct. 4, according to a report by the special commissioner of investigation for the city’s schools.
“The same thing happened the day before. That’s pretty bad,” Perecman said.
The new details came from a Freedom of Information Law request Perecman filed on behalf of Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, asking the NYPD for all the information about the department’s investigation into the boy’s disappearance. The Police Department originally denied the request.
After the boy’s remains were found washed up on the College Point Shore in January, Fontaine filed court papers challenging the denial. The NYPD later agreed to release the requested information once the city’s medical examiner’s office concluded its work. After weeks of analysis, the medical examiner determined the cause and manner of Avonte’s death was inconclusive in February.
Newly released video footage also shows Avonte ran past a security guard three times before disappearing out a door which had been left open. In the special commissioner’s report, the security guard claimed Avonte had only run past her once and she was busy signing in a parent at the time.
The new footage, however, shows Avonte sprinted past her an additional two times when no one else was around.
The information obtained in the FOIL request also included a letter written from the school’s safety division summarizing its investigation, but Perecman said it was inaccurate as it claimed Avonte only dashed past the security guard once.
“This investigation by the commanding officer of the school investigation unit is a whitewash job,” Perecman said. “It’s sad.”
The security guard told investigators she saw Avonte running toward the women’s bathroom and yelled out, “Excuse me” to the boy, but she could not chase him as she was the only one at the desk, the report said.
Fontaine now intends to file a wrongful death suit against the city and the city Department of Education, but she is waiting until she receives letters of administration, which would allow her to administer her son’s estate, Perecman said.
The boy’s disappearance in October launched a citywide search in which thousands of people took part. Volunteers combed the city for months for any sign of Avonte, whose photo was plastered in every subway station.
The search ended when his remains were found 11 miles from his school in January.
Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2014 Community Newspaper Group
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