A Harlem preschool is closed until further notice after a 3-year-old boy died as a result of a severe allergic reaction.
Little Elijah Silvera went into anaphylactic shock Friday, Nov. 3, after an adult at the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services gave him a grilled cheese, CBS New York reported. Family members insisted educators at the school were aware of Silvera’s dairy allergy and had it documented, but somehow someone let him have the sandwich.
For now, the pre-k will remain shuttered until the city’s Health Department can determine what exactly went wrong and if the facility could’ve done something to prevent the tragedy.
“He was just a light — if you see him, he is just a bright light,” relative Ruben Porras said said of Silvera, who had just become a student at the school. “He’s one of those kids that … he was one of those kids that when you walk in the room and saw him you just light up.”
The grieving family has since launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the child’s funeral and memorial expenses, as well as pay for an independent autopsy. Silvera was rushed to the ER where he ultimately died, but family members say it’s “unclear where responsibility for Elijah’s death will fall between the pre-k and the hospital itself.” The page has already collected over $40,000 in donations, surpassing its initial goal of $18,000.
“Our family is only beginning the long and painful process of adjusting to a world that does not include Elijah in it,” the GoFundMe page reads. “As we ease into this unthinkable reality and say goodbye to our sweet, joyful Elijah — and our hopes and dreams for all he would become — we thank you for your support.”
On Wednesday, health officials told CBS New York it appears that someone at the preschool failed to follow a written safety plan and failed to supervise a child adequately. Still, Lorelei Vargas, deputy commissioner of early care and education for the state’s Administration for Children’s Services, which is also investigating, said she doesn’t know if the “isolated incident” could’ve been avoided because it’s still unclear what happened.
Angry demands for answers from Elijah’s family, along with the parents of his classmates and concerned neighbors, have prompted the school to launch its own investigation into the matter.
“I think it’s incompetence and I think they definitely should receive consequences because it’s not right,” parent Ruth Harris told the news station. “They should be shut down and whoever did that, whoever is in charge of this program should definitely face criminal charges, I think.”