The New York City subway is littered with policeman, federal agents, transit workers, good Samaritans, and, most importantly, cameras, so it is somewhat amazing that a 13-year-old boy from could completely disappear in the system for over week.
But Francisco Hernandez Jr., of Bensonhurst, did just that. The bespectacled teen suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a relatively mild form of autism, and spent 11 days riding the rails after he got in trouble at school and feared he would get in more trouble at home, according to a profile in the Times.
“I didn’t want anyone to scream at me,” he told the paper. He even removed his battery from his cellphone to ensure he wouldn’t be bothered.
Francisco said he spent the 11 days in October traveling through four boroughs on the train, completely undetected despite constant search efforts by his parents, relatives, family friends, the NYPD and the Mexican Consulate.
On October 26, however, a transit cop found him in a Coney Island station, but still no one has been able to find an explanation for how he was able to lay low for so long.
His parents, Mexican immigrants, say the police dragged their feet on the case.
“Maybe because you might not understand ho w to manager the situation, because you don’t speak English very well, because of your legal status, they don’t pay you a lot of attention,” his mom, Marisela Garcia, 38, a housecleaner, who has lived here since 1994, told the Times.
But cops say they did everything they could from the beginning, including interviewing school officials, classmates and passing out leaflets all over the city, according to the Times.
Francisco told the paper that he spent his time on three subway lines, the D, F and 1, and would ride the trains until the last stop then hop on the next one going back the other way. He ate whatever he could afford from subway newsstands, like potato chips and jellyrolls, then neatly folded the wrappers and saved them in his backpack, while drinking bottled water.
He says he slept most of the time and used the bathroom at the Stillwell Avenue station.
“At some point I just stopped feeling anything,” Francisco told the Times.