2 arrested after suspected exposure to opioids at Bronx daycare kills 1-year-old and hospitalized 3 children
(CNN) — Two people were arrested in connection with the ongoing investigation into the death of a 1-year-old boy after he and three other children were exposed to suspected opioids at a Bronx daycare Friday.
New York City police were called to the daycare around 2:30 p.m. Friday, where they discovered three children – a 1-year-old boy, a 2-year-old boy and an 8-month-old girl – all unconscious.
First responders administered Narcan to all three children in an attempt to revive them, NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny said at a news conference early Saturday.
Two children survived, but 1-year-old Nicholas Dominici died at Montefiore Medical Center, the NYPD said in a statement.
Another 2-year-old boy, whose family had taken him home around 12:15 p.m. ET, was found “acting lethargic and unresponsive” by his mother. He was brought to BronxCare Health System where he was administered Narcan, which Kenny said saved his life.
The NYPD arrested Grei Mendez, 36, and Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, on Saturday, charging them both with murder, including two counts of manslaughter – one of a person under 11 years old and the other for reckless death – among other charges, according to police.
CNN has not been able to find attorneys for either suspect.
Dr. Ashwin Vasan, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said the center is a “home-based child care site under the official authority of the New York State Office of Children and Family Services.”
Vasan said the daycare was inspected by members of the department less than a week ago, and inspectors cited no violations.
“This is a new site that was opened in January of just this year, and had its routine inspections: two, in the beginning in order to get its license, and one surprise visit – that was the September 9 site – and no violations were found,” Vasan said, adding while it is unclear what took place at the daycare Friday, an active investigation is underway.
Mayor Eric Adams’ administration has prioritized the city’s burgeoning overdose crisis in its mental health plan, Vasan said.
“A small child – not someone we would think would be at risk of interacting with opioids – has come into contact with a powerful substance which can through either inhalation, ingestion or in touching of the skin, intoxicate the recipient,” he said.
Drug overdose deaths reached a record level in the United States this spring, with new data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealing more than 111,000 people died from a drug overdose in the 12-month period ending in April, according to the latest estimates.
Recent research shows opioid-related deaths among children have increased significantly, mirroring trends among adults.
A surge beginning in 2018 led to a nearly threefold increase in deaths among older adolescents and a nearly sixfold increase among children younger than 5.
In 2021, 40 infants and 93 children ages 1 to 4 died from an overdose of the powerful opioid fentanyl. Although deaths among teens are typically related to drug use, deaths among younger children are believed to be related to drugs left within reach.
“This crisis is real, and it is a real wake-up call for individuals who have opioids or fentanyl in their homes,” Adams said. “The mere contact is deadly for an adult and it’s extremely deadly for a child.”