The Friday disappearance of an autistic 14-year-old student kicked off a weekend search throughout Sheepshead Bay and Manhattan Beach, ending this morning when the boy was safely reunited with his family.
Ninth-grader Elicio Cortez went missing after he wrapped up the school day at Leon M. Goldstein High School (1830 Shore Boulevard). Cops tracked his last-known whereabouts down to Voorhies Avenue, near the Sheepshead Bay subway station, where he was caught on surveillance camera.
Cortez was known to spend time in the Coney Island area, and authorities, friends and family fanned out throughout Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach and Coney Island, passing out fliers over the weekend as they hoped for his safe return.
They were seen at Bayfest on Sunday, and fliers now hang on nearly every light-pole and bus station in the neighborhood.
Cortez usually takes a yellow school bus home after classes, not mass transportation, which his mother, Nancy Reavis, said he’s unfamiliar with.
The school’s bus driver was the first to tip Reavis off to his disappearance, PIX11 reports:
When his bus driver didn’t see him, she called his mom.
“She tells me, ‘Eliceo is not on the bus.’ She said, ‘[T]hey called him on the loudspeaker at school,’” the frantic mother recalled.
Reavis said she also received a call from the school’s principal who confirmed that her son was not in the school.
The Department of Education said they were assisting with the search.
“School officials are in contact with his mother and we are all deeply concerned about his well-being. Since this situation was identified on Friday we have worked and continue to work closely with NYPD in its investigation,” department officials said in a statement.
Ultimately, Cortez was found at 7 a.m. this morning near Oriental Boulevard in Manhattan Beach, according to the Associated Press. He was unharmed and reunited with his family in Flatbush. It is not yet clear where he spent the weekend.
Reavis told reporters over the weekend that she feared this was a situation bound to happen. She has been urging the school to provide a bus helper to ensure Cortez gets on the school bus after classes, a request the administration has resisted.
Reavis said that her son went to the train station after leaving Leon Goldstein high. She is angry and said that she has fought with school officials about getting her son a ‘para’ or bus helper to make sure that he makes it home safely.
“I spoke to his counselor and they said ‘yes, we’re gonna do something, we’re gonna do something,’” she said, “This is what has to happen so they can help me?”