NEW YORK (PIX11) – When Avonte Oquendo walked out his Long Island City school, the autistic teenager brought the city together in prayer for his safe return.
In January, when Avonte’s remains were discovered, there was more heartbreak.
“Avonte’s gone, it’s really simple. This is the first time I’ve been involved with a child like this,” Oquendo family attorney David Perecman said. “Now, that I’m involved in something like this. Once Avonte was found and that he was not alive, there are only two things I can do, file a lawsuit for my clients and try to do something.”
On Wednesday, Perecman sat down exclusively with PIX11 News. He wants to get the word out about GPS tracking devices. James O’ Connell spent time at the search site in Queens, and told us he once had an experience with another missing child.
“Depending on the mental capacity of the person wearing the watch, it has a feature here,” explained O’Connell.
“When you press this button, it sends a signal to the watch saying I need help. The watch will send not only a message to this device, but it will send it to your email to your phone.”
Perecman has been working on the investigation into Oquendo’s disappearance.
“There are things that I’m analyzing in terms of the tapes, and I will get back to you,” said Perecman.
Many of these tracking devices do no come without a price tag.
Senator Schumer and Avonte’s family proposed a law named for Avonte that would fund tracking devices for certain autistic children.
The Department of Justice is allowing existing grant funds to be used for these voluntary devices.
Advocates have said these devices are only one option to prevent wandering, and that different devices may work for different children.
The tracking device in the piece was known as Freedom and is now known as PAL (Protect and Locate).
Project Lifesaver is a 501c3 non profit organization, that has teamed with lok8u to provide the PAL unit to help protect those at risk of wandering. The organization has worked for 15 years to provide a program that prevents wandering.