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Honduran Boy Makes 37-Day Trek

June 29, 1999

NEW YORK (AP) _ His mother, brother and grandfather washed away by last year’s devastating Honduran mudslides, 13-year-old Edwin Daniel Sabillion pined for his father, somewhere in New York.

When Edwin wrote to the man _ whom he’s known only from snapshots _ his father sent him $200 and told the boy to meet him on a street ramp to LaGuardia International Airport on either June 25, 26 or 27.

His father said he’d be wearing a white shirt.

And so Edwin came. For 37 days, he hitchhiked, rode buses and sometimes just walked _ all the way from Honduras to Mexico, then Texas, Florida and finally New York.

Authorities were alerted to the teen-ager’s odyssey on Sunday, when he and a concerned cab driver couldn’t locate the father at LaGuardia.

For much of Monday, Edwin remained at a police precinct in the Bronx borough, where officers took a liking to him.

``He ate McDonald’s and had some Carvel ice cream cake,″ said New York Police Capt. Thomas Kelly. ``The cab driver bought him some in-line skates, and we got him additional clothes.″

It seemed the beginning of the end to a truly epic journey, one whose roots are firm in tragedy.

Edwin’s mother, Angela Enamorado, his 14-year-old brother, Alexander, and his grandfather were among the more than 6,000 Hondurans killed when Hurricane Mitch pummeled Central America late last year.

After their deaths in the mudslide that ravaged their village of Colonia San Miguel, police said Edwin stayed with friends in the nearby village of San Francisco de Yojoa Cortez.

On May 22, he began his quest. He made his way north through Guatemala and Mexico’s east coast, entering Texas near Brownsville and moving up to Houston before continuing east to Miami.

Thinking himself very near New York when he arrived in Miami on Saturday, Edwin stopped at a Latin cafeteria for some final help.

``He came in with a $5 bill and asked for change so he could take the bus,″ said Emilio Jose Jimenez, a regular patron who was among those who chipped in to buy Edwin a $109 one-way bus ticket to New York.

``He said he hadn’t slept or eaten much,″ Jimenez said. The boy had lost his wallet and his dad’s phone number, but ``he was happy because he was going to be with his father,″ Jimenez said.

On Sunday, Edwin arrived at a bus terminal in upper Manhattan, flagged down a livery cab and headed for LaGuardia.

``They went to a couple of different locations at the airport, and the cabbie becomes concerned,″ said the NYPD’s Kelly. ``That’s where we come in.″

Edwin, who does not speak English, has been placed in the care of city child care services until his father is found. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has promised help. And police, while not commenting directly on the father’s immigration status, say it will not be an issue in reuniting the pair.

They’ve asked the man _ whom they identify as Grevi Sabillion Vasquez _ to come forward. Police believe he lives in the nearby borough of Queens.

That means Edwin Sabillion and his father are now just a few miles apart.

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