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Human Interest

Boy, 3, with Dairy Allergy Dies After School Employee Allegedly Feeds Him Grilled Cheese

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A New York City couple is mourning the death of their 3-year-old son, whom they say died due to an allergic reaction after a pre-kindergarten employee allegedly fed him a grilled cheese sandwich.

Thomas and Dina Silvera say officials at the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Manhattan knew their son, Elijah, had a dairy allergy when the employee fed him the sandwich, leading to his death, on Nov. 3.

“Something so simple could have been avoided if they would have just followed — and paid attention to my son’s needs,” Thomas told ABC News. “Elijah was strong. He was a fighter. And I’m gonna keep fighting for that boy, just so people know that this is not the end of Elijah.”


He added: “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.”

Thomas says that Elijah went into anaphylactic shock and school officials called his parents instead of an ambulance. He was rushed to Pediatric Emergency at Harlem Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Thomas recalled the moments he rushed to the facility to be with his son.

“I kept praying and praying and praying and was like, ‘This cannot happen,’ ” he said. “My wife comes out and I think everything’s okay because she has — her face seemed normal. But as I got closer, she fell to the floor.”


The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is “aggressively” investigating the situation and the school has since been shut down for “failing to follow its written safety plan and failing to adequately supervise a child,” the department said in a statement to PEOPLE.

“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children and we are deeply saddened by this tragedy,” the statement read. “We will get to the bottom of what happened here.”

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There is no criminality expected in the case, a spokesperson for the New York City Police Department tells PEOPLE.

Thomas told ABC that Elijah had “so many different allergies,” including peanuts and berries. He was also asthmatic.

“He was that kid that we had to watch over very seriously,” Thomas said. “We carry this emergency pack that will have Benadryl, that will have Tylenol, that will have his EpiPen.”

It is unclear whether the pack was at the school at the time of the incident.

A GoFundMe page has been created for the family.