A shocking incident at a Bronx day care center has resulted in the death of a 1-year-old boy and the hospitalization of three other children. The operator of the center, Grei Mendez, and her neighbor, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, have been charged with murder and other offenses in connection with the tragedy.
Emergency medical workers were called to the six-story building on Morris Avenue on Friday afternoon to find Nicholas Feliz Dominici unconscious. Two other children, a 2-year-old boy and an 8-month-old girl, were also found unresponsive. All three children showed symptoms of opioid exposure, prompting the medical workers to administer the overdose-reversal medication Narcan and transport them to the hospital.
Sadly, Nicholas was pronounced dead at Montefiore Medical Center later that day. The other three children, who were all in critical condition, have since regained consciousness and are either stable or critical. The investigation into the incident revealed the presence of a so-called kilo press, commonly used by drug dealers to package large quantities of drugs, at the day care center.
The exact opioid responsible for the children's exposure has not been identified. However, Mayor Eric Adams and Commissioner Ashwin Vasan of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene spoke about the dangers of fentanyl during a press briefing. Mayor Adams emphasized the severity of the crisis and warned against the deadly consequences of opioid or fentanyl contact, especially for children.
Zoila Dominici, the grieving mother of Nicholas, described him as a smart and energetic boy who was loved by the other children at the day care center. She arrived at the center on Friday to find police surrounding the building and Mendez crying inside. Shortly after, she received a call informing her that Nicholas was in the hospital. Dominici expressed her disbelief and sorrow, stating, "He shouldn't have died like that."
On Saturday night, Mendez and Acevedo Brito were arrested and charged with multiple offenses, including murder, assault, child endangerment, and criminal possession of drugs. The investigation also led to the discovery of nearly a kilo of fentanyl and kilo presses within the day care center. Mendez, a recent immigrant from the Dominican Republic, had opened Divino Ni?ħo in May and had passed a surprise inspection just days before the tragic incident.
The day care center, licensed by the state's Office of Children and Family Services, had the capacity to care for up to eight children aged between 6 weeks and 12 years old. It had undergone two inspections and had not been found in violation of any regulations. The city's health department, on behalf of the state agency, conducted a surprise inspection the week before the incident and found no violations.
The police have not released the name of the person or persons in custody for questioning regarding the child's death. The investigation is still ongoing, and an autopsy to determine the cause of Nicholas's death was scheduled for Saturday.
This heartbreaking incident serves as a tragic reminder of the dangers posed by opioids and the importance of ensuring the safety and well-being of children in day care centers. The community is left mourning the loss of a vibrant 1-year-old boy, while authorities continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding his untimely death.