Two people have been charged after a baby died and three other young children were hospitalized from apparent fentanyl exposure at a New York City daycare center Friday.
New York City police responded to the Bronx-based Divino Niño Daycare after receiving calls about children not waking up after nap time. They arrived to find a 1-year-old, Nicholas Dominici, unconscious along with a 2-year-old boy and an 8-month-old girl. Responders administered Narcan to all three children after suspecting opioid involvement.
Dominici was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after. The other two children, along with another 2-year-old boy whose mother noticed he was “acting lethargic and unresponsive” after leaving the facility, were hospitalized for fentanyl interaction, with all three in critical or stable condition by Saturday.
That’s when police arrested the daycare’s owner, Grei Mendez, as well as her tenant, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, and charged them both with murder, manslaughter, assault and other charges, according to police.
Mendez opened the daycare, which is registered under the city’s Department of Children and Family Services, in January and passed multiple inspections, including a surprise visit made a week before the tragedy.
But upon investigating the scene Friday, police found two kilo presses, which are typically used to package and combine drugs, and a taped package containing thousands of dollars worth of fentanyl, according to a court filing obtained by the Associated Press.
When pleading not guilty to the charges Sunday, Mendez maintained she had no knowledge of the opioid’s presence in the Bronx apartment that housed the business and the room she rented to Acevedo Brito, her husband’s cousin.
Brito is awaiting arraignment, but both continue to be held without bail as of Monday after a judge determined they were both flight risks.