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NYC pays $2.7M to family of autistic boy who drowned in East River

The city has agreed to pay $2.7 million to settle a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the mother of Avonte Oquendo, the autistic student whose body was found in the East River several months after he fled from his Queens school, the Daily News has learned.

The suit accused officials at the school and the NYPD school safety division of negligence for failing to monitor the exit doors and not properly supervising the non-verbal 14-year-old boy, who had a known history of being a flight risk.

Avonte’s mom Vanessa Fontaine had spearheaded massive searches for her son after he ran out of the Riverview School in Long Island City undetected on Oct. 4, 2013. Hordes of volunteers joined cops in searching subway stations and tunnels because the teen was fascinated by trains, and used social media to share information.

His badly decomposed body was found washed up on a beach in Queens three months later.

Fontaine’s lawyer David Perecman said the civil case was unusual in many respects, most notably in that it is unknown what happened to Avonte after he left the school.

His body was so badly decomposed the medical examiner was not able to determine a cause of death. But the teen’s death did result in “Avonte’s Law” to prevent similar tragedies by installing alarms on school doors that would be triggered when opened.

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