Family of missing autistic man seek help from Avonte searchers

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MARINE PARK, Brooklyn (PIX11) - Chris Gewirtz learned how to do press releases, in the month since his 20-year old autistic brother, Brian, walked out of the family home on one of the coldest days of the year and never returned.

Gewirtz started sending the releases to news outlets every day recently, hoping Brian’s disappearance would continue to get some attention—and help.

Brian---an Eagle Scout—had been taking computer programming classes at a community college.

“There have been sightings,” Chris Gewirtz told PIX 11 News Monday.  “But we can’t rely that that’s him.”

Brian not only has special needs; he also relies on medication to control diabetes.

He is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds.  He has dark brown hair, brown eyes, a brown beard and mustache.  When last seen at home, he was wearing a maroon and gray striped sweater, blue jeans, tan work boots, and a black jacket with a hood.

The Gewirtz family has turned to organizations that mobilized after 13-year old autistic student, Avonte Qquendo, ran from his Queens school in the fall of 2013.

The Oquendo case received lots of attention, partly because surveillance footage captured him running from the school.

Sadly, Avonte’s body turned up in the waters near College Point, Queens several months later, in early 2014.

Donnell Nichols—from NYC React Search and Rescue—is one of the volunteers who helped with the Oquendo case.

The Gewirtz family is also working with searchers from the group SHMIRA.

Brian Gewirtz vanished on February 17 this year from his parents’ house on Coleman Street in Marine Park.

His mother and father are both pharmacists who work in Manhattan hospitals.

They had left for work early in the morning on February 17th, and Brian was sleeping on the couch in the living room.

They haven’t seen him since.

“We had reason to believe he might have gone to the Gowanus Canal,” Chris Gewirtz recalled to PIX 11 Monday.  “One volunteer had a connection who did a helicopter search, but it turned up nothing.”

When PIX 11 News first interviewed Kathleen and Steven Gewirtz, Brian’s parents, it was ten days into their ordeal.

They sobbed in their living room, as  Mrs. Gewirtz showed us Brian’s high school graduation photo.

The emotionally exhausted mom was sleeping with the picture at night, when she was able to get sleep.

She described her son as a good and gentle young man, who could get disoriented and lethargic.

She called him shy but curious about things.

“They’re struggling,” Chris Gewirtz said of his parents.  “It’s a really difficult situation.”

Steven Gewirtz was part of a Prospect Park search Sunday, March 15.

The volunteers have also combed through Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope and Fort Tilden.

The family is asking volunteers who would like to help to contact findbriannow@gmail.com.

There’s also a Facebook page that provides updates, “Find Brian Gewirtz.”

If you see someone you think could be Brian Gewirtz, please call 911 or 1-800-577-TIPS.

“We need help,” Chris Gewirtz told PIX 11.

 

 

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