A Harlem preschool has closed after a 3-year-old with a "documented" dairy allergy died after he was given a grilled cheese.
Elijah Silvera had just started preschool at the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services, according to the Los Angeles Times. The boy was given a lunch by the school on Nov. 3 that ultimately ended his life.
"He was given a grilled cheese sandwich by an adult at the pre-K, despite them knowing and having documented that he has a severe allergy to dairy," said a GoFundMe page created by a family friend on behalf of Elijah's parents. "Elijah went into anaphylactic shock and was taken to the Pediatric ER at Harlem Hospital, where, tragically, they were unable to save him."
The New York City Health Department has ordered the preschool to shut down after it reportedly failed to follow its written safety plan, and failed to adequately supervise a child, reports the New York Daily News.
"There is nothing more important than the safety of our children and we are deeply saddened by this tragedy," said Christopher Miller, a spokesman for the Health Department. "We will get to the bottom of what happened here."
"In the meantime, we're closing the Center for Family Services and continuing to aggressively investigate what happened and whether the facility could have done something differently to prevent this tragedy," added Miller.
According to city officials, staff from Children's Services will help parents to find alternative pre-K programs for their children.
"Following this tragedy, [the Administration of Child Services] and [the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene] are actively investigating all aspects of this program," said ACS spokesperson Aja Worthy-Davis. "The program is being closely monitored and we will promptly take appropriate action if needed."
The Silvera family hopes to pay for a private autopsy for their son.
"At this moment, it is unclear where responsibility for Elijah's death will fall between the pre-K and the hospital itself," reads the GoFundMe page. "We want to find out exactly where, if any, breakdowns may have occurred at either the school or the hospital."
Michelle Daniels, who attended the school as a child, said that authorities should look into the person that gave Elijah the sandwich, according to WPIX.
"I went there as a kid. That person should really be investigated. Really they should. Because if that was my child, I would be all over the place," said Daniels. "If I'm sending my children some place, and entrusting my children in your care, you're supposed to follow those guidelines."
Relative Ruben Porras reflected on Elijah's charming personality, reports WCBS.
"He was just a light -- if you see him, he's just a bright light," Porras recounted. "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."
"Elijah leaves behind his heartbroken mother, Dina, father, Thomas, and his 5-year-old brother Sebastian," reads the GoFundMe. "We dread the upcoming holiday season without our little boy. We are lost."