The older brother of Avonte Oquendo penned a message for New Yorkers last Friday, thanking the city for their support and determination in trying to find the severely autistic teenager.
In the letter, Danny Oquendo opened up about his family's unspeakable pain and called the city-wide search to find his brother "one of the most inspiring events to ever occur" in his life.
New Yorkers are labeled as rude, impatient, aggressive, and unsympathetic. I’m writing to tell you that this reputation the rest of the world assumes is far from the truth. Although the daily New York experience may feel like one of isolation amongst crowds, any true New Yorker will tell you that when it matters most, this city comes together in larger numbers than any other community on the planet as proven after the tragedy of 9/11. This tendency for New Yorkers to come together also held true during the city-wide search for my younger brother, Avonte Oquendo.
Let this be a reminder that at the end of the day, as tough as New Yorkers are, we can come together as one to achieve common goals that are in the best interest of our children, our loved ones, and our city...
On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all the searchers, marchers and everyone who held us in their thoughts for the love and support you have displayed during these extremely rough times. God bless you.
On October 4, Avonte slipped through a door of his Long Island City school. His disappearance sparked a massive, three-month long search that spread to subway tunnels, the East River, and New Jersey with scores of volunteers pitching in daily to hand out flyers and post on social media in order to raise awareness.
Avonte's remains were discovered three months later on a Queens beach.
In the letter, Danny Oquendo expressed hope that Avonte's death would "not be in vain" and urged schools to provide proper security staffing to ensure it does not happen again.