NEW YORK – From the loudspeakers of New York police patrol cars and search vehicles, Avonte Oquendo’s mother calls for him.
She urges the 14-year-old autistic boy to walk toward the flashing blue and white lights of the emergency vehicles that have been combing the streets for him.
The recording is part of the New York Police Department’s stepped up search efforts to find Avonte, who was last seen on surveillance running out of Center Boulevard School in Long Island City on the afternoon of October 4, Keith Brooks, director of operations for CityWide Disaster Services, said Thursday.
“Avonte, this is your mother. You are safe. Walk toward the lights,” the message repeats.
The hope is the teen, who is unable to communicate verbally, will hear the sound of his mother’s voice and approach the emergency vehicles.
The reward for the safe return of Avonte grew this week to $77,500, as divers joined an ever growing number of police and rescue officers from several states who have been searching for him nonstop for more than a week.