A Manhattan family is in mourning, after an unfortunate miscommunication at a New York City preschool led to the death of a child. As WPIX-TV reported, three-year-old Elijah Silvera was in his pre-K class at Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Harlem on November 3 when he went into anaphylactic shock after being fed a grilled cheese sandwich. The little boy had a severe dairy allergy—a condition Elijah’s parents had shared with the school.
On Wednesday, the New York City Department of Health made the decision to temporarily close the school as an investigation is conducted into why staff failed to adequately supervise the child and follow a designated safety plan.
A member of the Silvera family told WPIX-TV that school officials called Elijah’s mother, Dina, when he began to have a reaction to the sandwich. It does not appear as though an ambulance was called, so Dina rushed her son 10 blocks south to Harlem Hospital where the boy was unable to be revived.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help defray funeral costs and to pay for an independent autopsy.
“At this moment, it is unclear where responsibility for Elijah’s death will fall between the pre-k and the hospital itself. There are protocols that both the hospital and preschool must follow,” the campaign explains. “We want to find out exactly what caused Elijah’s death and that will mean sorting out exactly where, if any, breakdowns may have occurred at either the school or the hospital. Having a third party medical examination will ensure our ability to get a clear picture. We just want justice for Elijah.”
As the GoFundMe page notes, some 5.9 million children under the age of 18 in the United States have a food allergy. Elijah’s death was seemingly preventable, and the family hopes that learning more about his passing will help to ensure no other family faces such tragedy: “We can and must do more to protect our children from life threatening allergic reactions in U.S. schools.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Silvera family.