The tragic end to the case of Avonté Oquendo, a severely autistic and nonverbal teen who was found dead, evoked strong reaction from many across the country and online. A graphic designer from New York decided that he wanted to honor the memory of the boy and provide a different image to remember him by, drawing him as an angel.
"That whole situation is a big tragedy, it was a lot to take in when I first heard about it," Lavan Wright, 23, told BuzzFeed. "What actually happened to Avonté, I felt really bad about that. I didn't know how to help, I'm an artist so when I feel things I act by illustrating it, by drawing it. I felt it would be a good way to remember him and put a lot of people at ease."
He said there is more to the young teen's life, than the gruesome way the story concluded publicly.
"It allows people to see him as an angel, knowing he's in a better place right now."
Wright adds his own characters who have symbolic meaning to his pieces, and spoke about the puzzle piece Avonté is holding in his arms. He said he first made the character for an autism walk he attended last year.
"It's a reminder that he was an autistic child that should have been protected," Wright said.
Avonté's brother Daniel Oquendo has even seen the drawing, sharing it on Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram.
"It's amazing that Avonté's brother saw it," Wright said. "I just wanted to show it to them, his brother and his family. Again, I felt it was the least I could do, portraying my vision on a piece of paper. If it's possible I would love to make prints and give them to the family."
Danny Oquendo told BuzzFeed his family would love prints of the artwork and is going to connect with Wright.
Tracy Clayton contributed to this report.
Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.
Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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