A 13-year-old boy spotted a young teen baring striking resemblance to missing autistic teen Avonte Oquendo riding alone on a New York City subway train on Oct. 29. Avonte has been missing for nearly a month, and this photo sparked hope that he is still alive and safe.
The family of Avonte Oquendo, 14, received a hopeful development in when a new photo possibly of Avonte surfaced on Oct. 29. An anonymous 13-year-old approached the look-alike on the train and asked “Hey, are you Avonte?” The teen did not answer, which is characteristic of Avonte, who is mute and is unable to communicate verbally.
Avonte Oquendo Spotted On Subway — New Pic Might Be Missing Teen
The “good Samaritan” subway rider was able to snap a picture of the boy he believed to be Avonte before leaving the train, and posted the photo to his Facebook page. An administrator from the boy’s school alerted police, who immediately began investigating, reported The Daily News.
Avonte’s family is not entirely certain that the photo is of Avonte, but the snapshot gives hope that he is still safe. “I don’t celebrate yet, but I’m saying keep hope alive,” Avonte’s mother, Vanessa Fontaine, said. “There’s hope there that it may be him.”
The boy in this photo is wearing different clothing than the garments Avonte was last seen wearing.
Avonte Oquendo Runs Away From Queens School
Avonte had been last seen running away from Center Boulevard School in Long Island City, New York , where he is a student, at 12:45 p.m. local time on Oct. 4, 2013. The school’s video surveillance showed him running through the school hallways and out of the school.
Avonte has run away on three previous occasions, and has been found in the subway system each time.
Before this photo was taken, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that he was “not hopeful” that Avonte is still alive. He later apologized to Avonte’s family, who were angry and hurt by the statement.
Our thoughts are with Avonte’s family — and we hope this photo is a positive development in his case. Tips about Avonte’s whereabouts should be directed to 800-577-TIPS.
WATCH: Search Continues For Special Needs Teen Avonte Oquendo
— Kristine Hope Kowalski