Avonte Oquendo funeral: Remembering 14-year-old boy who captured city’s heart

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The prayer card for Avonte Oquendo, distributed at his wake Saturday morning. (Mary Jacob/PIX11 News)

NEW YORK (PIX11) — Mourners gathered in Greenwich Village Saturday morning to pay tribute to Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old boy with autism whose months-long disappearance ended in heartbreak in the East River.

The family gathered for a  private wake at the Greenwich Village Funeral Home, at 199 Bleecker St.   The funeral then followed at the Church of  St. Joseph at 371 Sixth Ave. The public was allowed to enter the church to attend the service, which attracted long lines

Tamara Branch was one of the first searchers to join the effort to find Avonte.


“I broke down crying like it was my own son” Dontae, said Branch outside of the funeral home Saturday morning.  “My heart is so heavy.”

Avonte’s remains were discovered last week in a marina in College Point, Queens, 11 miles from the Long Island City school from which he ran out on Oct. 4. His remains will be cremated.

The family is meeting for lunch at Astoria World Manor to celebrate Avonte’s life.

The public can send condolences by visiting the funeral home’s website. Click HERE to do so.