MARINE PARK, Brooklyn (PIX11) -- When Kathleen and Steven Gewirtz left their Marine Park home for their hospital pharmacy jobs in the early hours of Tuesday, Feb. 17, their middle child, Brian—who is autistic and diabetic—was sleeping on the living room couch. It’s the last time they saw him.
“He’s such a good kid, such a good, gentle, young man,” Brian’s sobbing mother told PIX11 News Thursday, while her crying husband held onto her shoulder.
Brian Gewirtz, who is 5'4", vanished from his home ten days ago—into the freezing temperatures that have kept many New Yorkers inside during that time. His sister, Lisa, reported he was not on the couch at 10:30 a.m. when she woke up.
Brian has brown hair, brown eyes, and a brown beard—and was last seen wearing a maroon and gray striped sweater, blue jeans, tan work boots, and a black jacket with a hood. His mother told PIX11 he is high-functioning autistic but tends to get disoriented and a bit spacy.
“When you call him, you have to call him a couple of times, because it takes a while for him to process what you’re saying,” Kathleen Gewirtz told PIX11.
Despite his disabilities, Brian worked hard to attain Eagle Scout status. He’s recently been finishing up computer programming classes at Bramson Ort College, where he’s also studying game design.
“He was doing it,” his mother told PIX11. “He was passing, but he was doing it. So I was very proud of him.”
The night before Brian Gewirtz disappeared, he had argued with his family about taking his medicine for diabetes. “He gets stressed, and when he does, he goes for a walk,” his brother, Chris Gewirtz, told PIX11. When Brian returned on Monday night, Feb. 16, his phone was broken. “Something happened to the front of the phone,” his mother recalled, “he came back with just the back.”
The next morning, Kathleen Gewirtz left for her pharmacy job at Mount Sinai Hospital, while her husband departed for his work as a pharmacist at Bellevue. That evening, after realizing Brian was not returning, they reported him missing to the 63rd Precinct.
The parents said they told police about Brian’s disabilities, but it took eight days to get a “vulnerable persons” alert issued.
Since Brian vanished, his family and friends checked the salt marshes near Avenue U and East 36th Street in Marine Park. Firefighters have checked the waters near local beaches. Chris Gewirtz said search teams even looked by the Gowanus Canal.
Now, the family is getting more desperate for answers and they’ve started a Facebook page called Find Brian Gewirtz. They also have an email address, FindBrianNow@gmail.com.
Anyone with information is asked to reach out to the NYPD at 1-800-577-TIPS or call 911. The family told PIX11 Brian is shy and to please approach him with a normal tone of voice.
Brian's mom and dad tearfully had this message for him: “Everything will be okay, Brian. Just come home, wherever you are.”
His mother added, “I just love you so much, and I want you home.” Steven Gewirtz said sadly, “We’re not angry.”