NY City closes pre-school after toddler with dairy allergy dies

Elijah Silvera

Toddler with dairy allergy dies after Harlem school allegedly gave him grilled cheese sandwich

3 after a supervising adult at the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Harlem gave him a grilled cheese sandwich to eat "despite them knowing and having documented that he has a severe allergy to dairy", according to a GoFundMe page set up for Elijah's family.

Elijah Silvera went into anaphylactic shock at Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Harlem, New York, on Friday.

The family members added that the child's death "was completely preventable", arguing that almost 5.9 million children under the age of 18 suffer from food allergies in the US. "We can and must do more to protect our children from life-threatening allergic reactions in United States schools", they said. Our family is reeling.

Roughly 8 percent of children have a food allergy, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

Despite the growing prevalence and warnings, food allergies often aren't taken as seriously as they should be.

The money will help alleviate funeral and medical expenses, pay for family therapy and cover the cost of a "second and independent autopsy", the page says.

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The family said they are not sure where exactly the blame falls, the pre-K program or the hospital. The mother then rushed the boy to a hospital 10 blocks away from the school. Elijah's family and friends want to find out exactly what happened to cause his death and say a third-party examination will ensure a full picture.

"I'm pissed off that this had to happen to my son, but the next thing I don't want is it to happen to somebody else's son or daughter", he said.

On Wednesday, the city Health Department ordered the pre-K shuttered for failing to follow its written safety plan and failing to adequately supervise a child.

Lorelei Vargas, deputy commissioner for early care and education at the Administration for Children's Services, spoke to reporters outside the center Thursday afternoon to address the "terrible tragedy", but said she couldn't provide much information because of the ongoing probe. We will get to the bottom of what happened here.

The city says it will investigate to see if the facility could have done something differently to prevent the tragedy. They described the boy as "sweet" and "joyful".

"It is an unimaginable time for everyone who loved Elijah, in particular for his 5-year-old brother Sebastian, who struggles to understand that his brother is truly gone", the family wrote online, with photos showing the two boys playing side by side. "We are lost", the family says.

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