Bronx community reels after the tragic loss of a toddler to suspected fentanyl exposure at Divino Niño in Kingsbridge

Bronx daycare faces investigation; owner and neighbor arrested after toddler's suspected drug-related death.

In a shocking incident that has left the community reeling, a 1-year-old child lost his life after a suspected fentanyl exposure at a local Bronx daycare, Divino Niño. The facility’s owner, Grei Mendez De Ventura, 36, and his neighbor, Carlisto Acevedo Brito, 41, are now facing charges, authorities revealed on Saturday night.

Ventura and Brito were arrested on Saturday and are currently in police custody. They face a litany of charges, approximately 11 each, which include depraved indifference, manslaughter, battery, and child endangerment. This tragic event also led to the hospitalization of three other minors.

During a search of the facility, authorities discovered nearly 2 pounds of fentanyl and several pounds of presses. These presses are commonly used to mix fentanyl with other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin.

The Kingsbridge daycare, owned by Ventura, who recently relocated from the Dominican Republic, opened its doors in May. Despite the recent tragedy, the facility had passed its annual surprise inspection earlier this month, on Sept. 6th, as per official records.

Heartbreaking Details Emerge

Nicholas Dominici, only 21 months old, was the child who tragically lost his life. He, along with four other minors, was discovered unconscious in the daycare’s basement, presumably having been exposed to the lethal drug. The tragic theory is that they may have inadvertently inhaled it.

Upon the paramedics’ arrival, two infants, including Nicholas, were in cardiac arrest. Both Nicholas and another 2-year-old boy were administered multiple doses of Narcan, an overdose reversal medication, as stated by the New York Police Department. Sadly, Nicholas was pronounced dead after being rushed to Montefiore Hospital.

Updates on the other affected children were provided by the NYPD on Saturday night. While the 2-year-old boy remains in critical condition, an 8-month-old girl is reported to be stable, according to the New York Post. Another toddler, who was picked up from the daycare before the tragic discovery, also seems to have been exposed to fentanyl.

Grieving Father Speaks Out

The grief-stricken father of Nicholas shared that Friday marked the end of the first week his son had attended the Morris Avenue daycare. He initially believed his son had fallen ill due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Reflecting on the daycare, the boy’s mother commented, “It was a quiet place, it seemed like they would take good care [of the children]. They always keep in touch with us. Everything seemed fine.” Heartbreakingly, she added, “We were hoping we would take our son to a place where they would take care of him, not to the funeral home.”

This incident underscores the growing concern over the presence and misuse of fentanyl. The U.S. has recently highlighted China as a top producer and transit country for fentanyl chemicals. Furthermore, a UCLA study identified a rising trend in deaths resulting from combining fentanyl and other stimulants in the U.S. over the past decade. In a similarly tragic incident in Florida, a mother faces charges after her 5-year-old son succumbed to an overdose of fentanyl and cocaine.