Finally some good news to report in the Avonte Oquendo case. A photo of a teen thought to be the missing autistic boy has surfaced ... and it was taken just this Wednesday on a New York City subway! The news could only be better if Avonte was actually home with his family.
Ah, but therein lies the rub. The commuter who took the photo that even Avonte's dad says bears a likeness to his missing son didn't actually report the sighting to the authorities. He uploaded the photo to Facebook instead.
Welcome to 2013.
Everything goes on Facebook. Even things that should go to the cops.
Granted, the "Avonte" photo was taken by another teenager, a kid who Newsday reports wasn't supposed to be on the train himself -- hence the reason his sighting was not reported to authorities. He reportedly asked the boy believed to be Avonte if he was the missing child and got nothing but a blank stare. That's consistent with Avonte's autism -- he's non-verbal. Then he snapped the photo seen above and uploaded it to Facebook.
It went viral from there, as things do.
It's possible that Avonte has lived on the subways for weeks. He wouldn't be the first. Back in 2009, a runaway made national news after he spent 11 straight days riding the trains. The 13-year-old also had autism. And like Avonte, he had a fondness for the subway.
But need I remind you that Avonte has been missing since October 4? That police have been turning this city upside down looking for him?
The question now is: if this is Avonte, why is it that a 13-year-old is the first one to spot him? Why is it that a 13-year-old was the only one on that train to do a darn thing? Even in the photo above, you can see that there are a number of other people on the train ... grownups who should have had no problem 'fessing up to being on said subway.
So what gives? The New York area is on high alert for this child -- I was in the city a few weeks ago and took note of a number of mentions of the missing boy. Heck, the whole nation is watching this case.
People could not be unaware of the situation. So how could they have missed this?
Could people possibly be so wrapped up in their own lives that they missed him? That they ignored this child? What does that say about our society?
I'm depressed by the notion that only a teenager did anything about this.
And yet, I will admit I'm hopeful about this photo. Because that would mean that this really is Avonte; that he really could be out there, still alive (despite what NY Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said about Avonte probably being dead late last week), and he could still get home.
When there's a missing child, what do YOU do to help in the search?
Image via NYPD