A 3-year-old boy died after a New York City school served him a grilled cheese sandwich despite knowing that he was severely allergic to dairy, the child’s family said.
Elijah Silvera went into anaphylactic shock after eating the sandwich at Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City on Nov. 3, PIX11 reported.
Elijah was rushed to the pediatric emergency room at Harlem Hospital, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the family. Doctors at the hospital could not save the boy.
Authorities in New York shut down the school following the tragic incident. The school failed to follow its written safety plan and failed to adequately supervise the child, both of which are in violation of the health code, authorities said.
The boy’s family is heartbroken. He leaves behind his father, Thomas, mother, Dina, and 5-year-old brother Sebastian. The parents are taking time off from work to rest, grieve, and heal.
“Our family is only beginning the long and painful process of adjusting to a world that does not include Elijah in it,” the family’s GoFundMe page states.
The family said that Elijah’s death was preventable, citing that 1 in 13 children in the United States has food allergies.
“We can and must do more to protect our children from life-threatening allergic reactions in U.S. schools,” the family’s GoFundMe page says.
According to a family member who spoke to PIX11, the school called Elijah’s mother instead of an ambulance when the boy went into shock. The mother then rushed the boy to a hospital 10 blocks away from the school.
The family said they are not sure where exactly the blame falls, the pre-K program or the hospital.
“We want to find out exactly where, if any, breakdowns may have occurred, at either the school or the hospital,” they wrote on GoFundMe.
The parents hope to use the funds donated to GoFundMe to fund an independent autopsy. The family is also looking to hire a therapist who can help Elijah’s brother with the shocking loss.
“I went there when I was a kid,” Michelle Daniels, a woman who attended Elijah’s school as a child, said. “That person should be really investigated. Really they should. Because if that was my child, I would be all over the place.”
“If I’m sending my children someplace, and I’m entrusting my children in your care, you’re supposed to follow those guidelines,” Daniels added.
After Elijah’s story was carried by a local television station, his parents received an outpour of messages from families who lost children with allergies.
“Our hearts are breaking for your struggles and losses,” the family wrote on GoFundMe.
After hearing from all the parents, the family decided to donate part of the proceeds from their GoFundMe page to a nonprofit working on behalf of the food allergy community.