With Nick Esposito and Andrew Theodorakis
Several hundred people gathered at Heckscher State Park in East Islip today, calling for justice for Thomas Valva, the 8-year-old who died last month of hypothermia after police say he was forced to stay in a freezing garage overnight by his father.
The nonprofitSpecialized Autism Support and Information organized the rally, as seas of blue ribbons, which promote the prevention of child abuse, and signs stating “Justice for Thomas” and “Systematic Change Needs To Be Made” were on display.
Tensions ran high and crowds shouted for answers as elected officials spoke. Among the attendees was Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.
During the march, people chanted for Thomas and vowed to never let a similar situation happen again.
Thomas’s mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, and her two surviving sons, Andrew, 6, and Anthony, 10, attended the event.
Last month, community membersheld a vigil to memorializethe boy in the parking lot of Kaler’s Pond Park in Center Moriches, and donations continue to come in from around the region to support Thomas’ family.
Please click on 2, 3 and 4 at the bottom to see more images from the Heckscher State Park march.