Bronx parents are in shock after a one-year-old died and multiple other small children were hospitalized after apparently being exposed to deadly fentanyl.
Two were arrested in the investigation into the death of 21-month-old Nicholas Dominici. On Saturday, 36-year-old Grei Mendez de Ventura and 41-year-old Carlisto Acevedo Brito were taken into custody on an array of charges including depraved-indifference murder and child endangerment.
The victim’s father, Otoniel Feliz, told the New York Post that the Divino Nino day care center “was a peaceful place, it seemed like they would take good care [of the kids].”
Feliz added that the family believed they were taking his son to a place where he would be cared for, “not to the funeral home.”
He initially thought his son was a victim of carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to CBS News, little Nicholas had just begun staying at the day care last week. But on Friday, he and three other toddlers were apparently exposed to fentanyl and found unresponsive.
1-year-old dies at New York City day care after possible fentanyl exposure https://t.co/T8lqDPYU3o
— NewsNation (@NewsNation) September 16, 2023
A police search of the building uncovered almost a kilo of fentanyl. Investigators also found several kilo presses, which are used to mix fentanyl with other drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Ventura, who is reportedly the owner of Divino Nino, is a native of the Dominican Republic. She opened the facility in May and passed a surprise annual inspection less than two weeks ago.
Two two-year-old boys and an eight-month-old girl were discovered unconscious in the basement where it is believed they contacted the deadly substance.
Two of the small children were in cardiac arrest, and Nicholas and one of the two-year-old boys were given multiple doses of Narcan. This is a treatment used to reverse the effects of a fentanyl overdose.
One of the two-year-old boys is at last report listed in critical condition and the eight-month-old girl is in stable condition. The fourth child, the other two-year-old boy, is in stable condition according to local police.
In addition to murder charges, both suspects are being held on charges of manslaughter of a person under 11 years old, manslaughter recklessly causing death, four counts of assault causing injury through risk of death, and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
These small victims underscore the danger of fentanyl, which is largely trafficked across the nation’s southern border. Overdoses on the deadly drug are now the leading cause of death for Americans 18-45 years old.