The parents of Nicholas Dominici are speaking out after the one-year-old passed away following suspected fentanyl exposure at a Bronx daycare. According to ABC7 New York, the child passed away on Friday while three other children were hospitalized.
Additionally, police have arrested two adults connected to the crime. However, authorities are seeking to locate a third suspect.
RELATED: Teen Mother Charged After Reportedly Giving Her 9-Month-Old Infant A Fentanyl-Laced Baby Bottle
More Details Regarding The Alleged Incident Which Led To The Passing Of Nicholas Dominici
According to the outlet, the incidents occurred Friday at Divino Nino Daycare at 2707 Morris Avenue in the Kingsbridge neighborhood of the Bronx, New York.
Around 12:15 p.m., a 2-year-old named Jaziel Lino was taken home, and his mother noticed that the child was “acting lethargic and unresponsive.” The mother decided to take the child to the hospital. Lino was reportedly given Narcan, a medication designed to “reverse opioid overdose,” as per SAMHSA, which “saved his life.”
However, around 1 p.m., the remaining children at the daycare ate a meal and then took a nap. When workers attempted to wake the children around 2:30 p.m., some were found “unconscious.”
According to the New York Post, authorities received a 911 call from the daycare around 3:30 p.m. When officials arrived, they reportedly found an eight-month-old girl, a two-year-old boy, and one-year-old Nicholas Dominici “unresponsive.”
Additionally, authorities reportedly noted that the children showed “symptoms of opioid exposure.”
After being given Narcan, the children were taken to Montefiore Medical Center. There, Dominici was pronounced deceased.
According to CBS News, the home-based daycare is “registered under the city’s Department of Children and Family Services.” Additionally, the outlet reports that the center reportedly based an inspection a week before this incident. NBC News adds that the center opened earlier this year, in January.
Furthermore, the outlet notes that during Friday’s investigation, authorities found a kilopress inside the daycare center. The object is reportedly “used to package large amounts of drugs.”
“Open secret” that the Bronx day care center where 21-month-old Nicholas Feliz-Dominici died from fentanyl exposure Friday was an obvious drug front. So how on earth did it pass an inspection just days before? Questions must be asked @NYCMayor https://t.co/QMQT7QrynG pic.twitter.com/ZtPjgHFoeL
— Miranda Devine (@mirandadevine) September 18, 2023
The Parents Of Nicholas Dominici Speak Out
According to CBS News, Dominici would have celebrated his second birthday in November. The child’s parents, Zoila Dominici and Otoniel Feliz, are now reflecting on their son’s life and speaking out about his passing.
Nicholas Dominici was the youngest of their five children.
“He was so intelligent. He would repeat everything you would say to him. He had so much love. Everyone who knew him appreciated him, all of our neighbors,” Zoila Dominici, the one-year-old’s mother, reportedly told CBS News in Spanish.
According to the child’s father, Otoniel Feliz, the parents were recommended the daycare center by the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center.
“We spoke to the ones who are in charge… They recommended that place and apparently complied with all of the rules. We were on a waitlist for our son to qualify. Apparently the place passed all of the inspections. Supposedly that apartment was only for day cares, but the rumor is, from what we have heard, they also rented rooms,” Feliz told CBS News in Spanish.
Additionally, Feliz reflected on “the hardest thing” since his son’s passing.
“The hardest thing is for me to come home and open that door and not see Nicholas saying, ‘Dad, Dad.’ It is too hard. We can’t…,” he told the outlet.
Meanwhile, this mother shared her regret.
“Look at what happened. If I had known, I wouldn’t have taken him,” Dominici explained.
According to Dominici, her son had only been in the daycare’s care for about a week.
Unfathomable grief for this family. Nicholas Dominici was only a week into his time at the daycare pic.twitter.com/JJNnE5P0EB
— Kristie Keleshian (@KristieKNews) September 17, 2023
More Information Regarding The Two Arrested Suspects & Police’s Search For The Third
According to the New York Post, the daycare’s owner, 36-year-old Grei Mendez De Ventura, and her husband’s cousin, 41-year-old Caristo Acevedo Brito, were arrested on Friday.
Both have been charged with murder, assault, and child endangerment in relation to Nicholas Dominici’s suspected fentanyl overdose.
The outlet adds that police have launched a search for the daycare owner’s husband.
According to the outlet, the children were exposed to the fentanyl when the drug was “cut” in the daycare center and its remnants “floated into the air.”
This is the "daycare center" where 1 yr. Old toddler, Nicholas Feliz Dominici was killed. I have a trash basket that looks cleaner than this! pic.twitter.com/1Q1LqCHNLn
— Ron Milner (@RonMilnerBoodle) September 18, 2023
According to CBS News, on Monday, investigators revealed they found a “kilo” of the drug “hidden beneath a mat” used by the children for their naps. Mayor Eric Adams has since shared his reaction and insight to the discovery.
“That little piece, that little corner, about less than the size of a fingernail. A tenth of a size of a fingernail can kill [an] adult. So imagine what it could do to a child,” Adams explained, as per CBS News.
On Monday, it was also revealed that authorities discovered three-kilo presses inside the daycare and “over 2 lbs.” of the drug.
According to the outlet, the daycare owner’s attorney, Andres Aranda, maintains that the woman “didn’t know what was going on.”
“She didn’t know… what was going on,” the attorney explained, as per CBS News. “It’s a tragedy for the children, it’s a tragedy for her, because I don’t believe she’s involved in what happened. So it’s really bad all around for everybody.”
Phone logs obtained by police have since shown the owner contacting her husband “several times” after the children were unresponsive. Afterward, the owner’s husband reportedly removed items from the location’s basement and, ultimately, fled police, as per ABC 7 New York.
According to CBS News, the cause of death of one-year-old Nicholas Dominci remains pending. VICE reports that Mendez is expected to appear in court on September 21, and Brito is expected to appear the following day.