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Family of missing man with special needs found dead in Marine Park calls for change

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MARINE PARK, N.Y. (PIX11)-- Two days after a missing man with autism and diabetes was found dead near a golf course in Brooklyn, his family called for change in the way cases of missing adults with special needs are handled.

Brian Gewirtz left his Marine Park home for a walk on February 17, only to be found dead less than 2 miles away on Thursday. His body was discovered near a creek by the Marine Park Golf Course.

“He was just sunshine. He was just pure sunshine. And that’s why it’s so hard, not to have the sunshine anymore. And so how do you find the new normal with that?” asked a tearful Laura Rivera, Brian’s aunt and godmother.

It was freezing the first week Brian went missing, and he didn’t have a cell phone or his medication. Rivera said the eagle scout who enjoyed the outdoors, probably became disoriented.

“We’re assuming he laid down to rest, and just didn’t realize he wasn’t going to wake up,” Rivera said.

The sad finding ended an intense search by the Gewirtz family, and the dozens of volunteers who joined them. One of them, community advocate Marie Delus said the area of the golf course had been searched, but there were limitations.

“They went all the way deep in there. It’s just that we couldn’t get exactly where he was which is close to the Belt Parkway. No volunteers could physically get over there,” said Delus.

Rivera said there needs to be as much of an urgent effort to find missing adults with special needs as there is to locate missing children.

“They need to be found the same way as amber alerts,” she said.

“When someone is missing, a vulnerable adult or child, we need to stop everything, and just look for them. Bring out the helicopters, bring out the dogs,” said Delus.

There will not be an autopsy performed to determine the exact cause of death. Police do not suspect foul play.

Brian’s parents remain secluded in their Marine Park home, making plans for a funeral which is expected to be held in the beginning of the week.