NEW YORK (PIX11) — Close friends and family held on to each other as they mourned Avonte Oquendo, saying goodbye to the teen with austim who’s tragic death touched so many. At a packed private wake, the pain was so hard to bare no one said a word.
“Nobody really spoke. It was just silence, but a beautiful silence,” said family friend Leslie Burch. “I see him as an angel. God took one of his angels and hopefully, people will learn from this. Just love one another.”
Avonte’s parents, clearly overwhelmed with grief, could not find the words to speak.
Kirk Patrick, a cousin, explained how the family feels. “We are in pain. We just need everyone to help, we’re in pain right now.”
A white casket with Avonte’s remains went from the Greenwich Village funeral home to Saint Joseph’s Church where about 200 mourners waited, some weeping. The line to get inside the church wrapped around the corner on Sixth Avenue.
In the crowd was Avonte’s family, complete strangers and actress Holly Robinson Peete who’s son has autism.
Avonte’s cousin Javan Conti, who also has autism, and his father recalled the last time they saw Avonte, a moment they will never forget.
“I know he’s resting in peace. I didn’t expect it to end this way, but God does things in His own way,” Burch said.