Police have been frantically combing the city’s subway tunnels in search of Avonte Oquendo, a 14-year-old boy who has autism and is mute.
According to the New York Daily News, service on the 7 and G trains was disrupted for several minutes on Monday afternoon, when power was cut on parts of the two subway lines as cops searched for the child.
Oquendo, who is said to be “severely autistic” and unable to communicate verbally,has been missing since last Friday. He was last seen leaving Center Boulevard School in Long Island City, where he is a student.
Other than scouring the subway tunnels, police have reportedly searched the East River and have been alerting residents in various neighborhoods to be on the lookout for the boy. Oquendo’s distraught family has also been handing out posters.
“Anyone out there, any borough in New York City, if you see this child please, please, please have compassion, and please just call the police and say, ‘I’ve seen him,'” the boy’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, said in a tearful interview with NBC New York.
Fontaine has also expressed distress about the circumstances of her son’s disappearance. Oquendo is supposed to be given one-on-one supervision at all times, she told WABC-TV. Thus, she’s confused as to where the boy’s teacher or the security guard were when he left the school grounds.
A statewide missing child alert was issued for Oquendo Monday.
Oquendo has reportedly run away before and seems to have a particular love for trains. According to WABC, the child has disappeared on three other occasions and was found on the subway tracks every time.
Avonte Oquendo, who is said to be 5’3″, was wearing a grey striped shirt, black jeans and black sneakers at the time of his disappearance. Please call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 800-577-TIPS if you have any information about the boy.
UPDATE (4:20 p.m.): As of Tuesday afternoon, Oquendo has still not been found, police told The Huffington Post.
Authorities initially said the 14-year-old had been found in East Harlem. But within minutes of the announcement Tuesday, police said they had made a mistake and that the child was not Oquendo.