One Toddler Dead & Multiple Others Hospitalized After Fentanyl Exposure At Bronx Daycare

A toddler is dead and multiple others were rushed to the hospital after a fentanyl exposure incident at a daycare in New York City.

According to multiple media reports, last Friday, the NYPD and paramedics were called to Divino Niño Daycare, which was being run out of an apartment in the Bronx. Once there, first responders found multiple young children suffering from severe symptoms related to opioid exposure.

The first paramedics on the scene administered Narcan to at least three children — an 8-month-old girl, a 1-year-old boy, and a 2-year-old boy. Thankfully, the girl and the older boy survived after they were rushed to the hospital. Sadly, the 1-year-old boy later died at the hospital. He has sine been identified as Nicholas Dominici.

Per the New York Times, Dominici’s mother only learned of the situation when she arrived at the daycare later to pick up Nicholas at the end of the day. Police on scene told her that the child had been taken to the hospital. There, she was informed of his tragic death. The boy had apparently only started daycare at Divino Niño a week before the incident.

So awful.

According to police, a fourth child may also have been exposed to fentanyl or a related opioid at the daycare earlier that day. In the middle of the day, hours before police arrived were called, a child was “removed” from the center and sent home. Once at home, the child’s mother noticed he was being “lethargic and unresponsive,” according to NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny via the NYT. That child was separately rushed to the hospital, given Narcan, and “his life was saved.” OMG…

Upon seeing so many children with serious medical issues, firefighters immediately tested the daycare for things like carbon monoxide poisoning. No traces of toxins or other airborne environmental issues were found, though. Then, when the 8-month-old girl’s urine sample at the hospital tested positive for trace amounts of fentanyl, investigators began to zero in on the cause.

A full-scale search of the daycare turned up a “kilo press,” which is a device used to package large quantities of drugs. A deeper search of a closet at the apartment in question turned up two more kilo presses and one kilo of fentanyl, per the NYT.

Upon making this discovery, cops arrested 36-year-old Grei Mendez and 41-year-old Carlisto Acevedo Brito. Mendez is the daycare operator who was running the business out of her apartment. Brito, cops say, was renting a room from Mendez separate to the daycare and was not involved with looking after the children. Regardless, both parties have been charged with murder, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal possession of drugs, and assault.

Mendez’s attorney Andres Aranda spoke to CBS New York after her arrest and said the daycare owner shouldn’t be charged with a crime in the case. He argued that Mendez had no idea what Brito was allegedly doing in his rented room in the apartment, and that she shouldn’t be repsonsible for it — especially since she’s the one who called 911 in the first place.

Aranda argued:

“Why would someone who knows they have fentanyl in their apartment call the police? It’s a tragedy for the children. It’s a tragedy for her because I don’t believe she’s involved in what happened, so it’s really bad all around for everybody. She just didn’t know. She rented a room to somebody, and she didn’t know what was going on.”

FWIW, the New York Times asked the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene about Divino Niño Daycare’s status as a certified childcare center at the time of this tragedy. Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said Mendez’s daycare passed two routine inspections before it opened back in January. Then, it also passed a “surprise visit” inspection earlier this month without any violations found.

Here is more on this tragic case (below):

Our hearts go out to that poor family who lost their 1-year-old boy… absolutely unimaginable…


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