News of Avonte Oquendo's death was a sad ending to a three-month search for the 14-year-old who went missing after walking out of his high school in Queens, New York, in October 2013.
Avonte's older brother, Danny Oquendo, who has spoken on behalf of the family previously, will not let his brother's death go in vain. He started law school this week and has plans to become a legal advocate for autistic children. He passed the LSAT six years ago and will finally put his passion to work.
"You shouldn't wait for something bad to happen to pursue those dreams because you could be the person that stops that from happening," said Oquendo to NBC New York.
New York City residents came together when Avonte was missing to find the boy. Oquendo thanked the city in a letter, following Avonte's burial in March. "Avonte’s disappearance started a movement that will set the bar for what needs to be done for years to come in regards to any child that has gone missing, especially those with disabilities," he writes.
He called this moment one of the "most inspiring" of his lifetime.
"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," Oquendo said.
The situation also brought to light the issue of public schools doing a better job of monitoring students with autism. Earlier this month New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed Avonte's Law, which calls for audible alarms on public school building doors.
Avonte's body parts were discovered in the East River in Queens, New York, on Jan. 16. Hundreds of supporters from across New York City gathered to mourn the death of the autistic teen at his funeral on Jan. 25.
Follow Natelege Whaley on Twitter: @Natelege_
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(Photo: NBC 4, New York Local News)
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