Special-needs teen found wandering near Southern State Parkway exit

Posted: Updated:
MALVERNE -

A teen with autism walked out of his day program Thursday and onto the Southern State Parkway near Exit 18, police say.

He left the program at the Gersch Academy on Eagle Avenue in West Hempstead and state police found him on the parkway shoulder.

The teen was not injured, but some community members said the incident troubled them.

"These children are on the autism spectrum," said David Awerbuch, of West Hempstead. "You would expect the school would have alarms on the doors in case someone opens the door when they're not supposed to."

To make it to the Southern State Parkway, the student had to pass busy Woodfield Road, then cross over the train tracks and still walk about another quarter-mile.

The academy says the matter is under internal investigation.

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