Fentanyl found in Bronx day care, 1-year-old boy dead, 3 hospitalized
Grei Mendez and Callisto Acevedo Brito were charged with 11 crimes, including assault, manslaughter and murder, in the death of 1-year-old Nicholas Dominici
Nicholas Dominici, 1, died Friday after he was exposed to fentanyl at Divino Niño day care in the Bronx, New York. Three other children under the age of 3 have also been hospitalized with “serious injuries” related to the exposure, according to ABC News.
On Friday afternoon, ABC reported that Grei Mendez, 36, and other day care workers put children down for a nap on a rug at the child care facility run out of Mendez’s apartment. When four children were unresponsive after workers tried to wake them up, first responders were summoned.
Mendez has “maintained she had no knowledge of the presence of the highly potent drug, which sickened three other young children, including an 8-month-old girl who tested positive for fentanyl,” per The Guardian.
On Monday night, the New York Police Department confirmed that “a kilogram of fentanyl was found near mats” the children napped on, according to The New York Times.
U.S. News & World Report also reported that Mendez’s husband rented a room in the apartment to his cousin, Callisto Acevedo Brito, 41. Brito and Mendez have been charged with 11 crimes, including assault, manslaughter, and murder.
Before calling 911 on Friday, detectives learned that Mendez “talked to her husband several times,” according to ABC. Video was also recovered of Mendez’s husband and “other people fleeing the day care” with several bags.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams responded to the tragedy in a press briefing Monday. He held a photo of a small bag containing small amounts of white powder.
He pointed to the corner of it and said, “That little piece, that little corner, less than a size of a fingernail. A tenth of the size of a fingernail can kill an adult. So imagine what it could do to a child.”
The mayor spoke about the 1-year-old’s death and addressed all drug users, calling for a removal of drugs in homes. He said, “You are irresponsible as an adult if you have this inside your home.”
He continued, “This is probably one of the worst days I’ve had, of going up to the Bronx. Sitting down with those parents, losing their babies like this. They drop their babies off at a day care center, hoping that their children will be protected by their care givers. I was speaking to the father yesterday. Like what do you say? What do you say? This is just total madness that we lost a child to this dangerous substance. And we almost lost four children to this dangerous substance.”
This issue is not contained to the Bronx or Divino Niño day care.
In 2005, opioids killed 24% of children who died of fatal poisonings. In 2018, opioids were responsible for 52% of all deaths caused by poisonings, according to NBC. These opioid-caused deaths have not only substantially increased in children, but have increased at an even higher rate among adults.