HARLEM, Manhattan — The parents of a 3-year-old boy who died after he was allegedly given a grilled cheese sandwich, to which he was severely allergic, at a Manhattan daycare said they have received an outpouring of support during this incredibly painful time and vowed to ensure their child did not die in vain.
Through their attorney, Elijah Silvera's parents released this statement on Friday:
"My wife Dina and I spend hours reading your messages. They are a lifeline during this horrible time period. We are moved to tears to know that we are not alone, both in our heartbreak and in our concern for safety around allergies in schools.
We also want to say that while we remain absolutely devastated over the loss of our sweet son Elijah, the outpouring of love from across the country has inspired us to ensure that his death did not happen in vain. As Elijah’s parents, we will use our voices to draw attention to *completely preventable* life-threatening allergic reactions in U.S. daycares and schools. These preventable tragedies must come to an end.
Every day since Elijah left us has been so painful. We come home to an apartment that has an eerie kind of emptiness. It is filled with his toys, his pictures on our walls, and the sounds of one child, the other missing.
Elijah’s brother Sebastian asked us how we could go see his baby brother in Heaven, "Can we ride a rocket ship to reach to him?" he asked, and our hearts broke all over again. The reality hits us, subsides, and then hits us again, and our hearts break each time. Your messages of love, support, and shared experiences are holding us up. We may be too overwhelmed to respond to everyone, but we want to thank you.
Focusing on advocacy for other children like Elijah gives us hope. You give us hope.
While we can no longer protect Elijah, hold him in our arms, or kiss his sweet little face, we can still fight for kids like him. And that’s exactly what we intend to do.
With Gratitude and Determination,
Elijah’s Parents, Dina & Thomas"
A family friend wrote that Silvera "was given a grilled cheese sandwich by an adult at the pre-K, despite them knowing and having documented that he has a severe allergy to dairy."
The toddler went into anaphylatic shock and died at a hospital. He's survived by his parents and 5-year-old brother.
The school, the Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Harlem, was shut down Wednesday until further notice. The city's Department of Health said the decision was made because the school failed to follow its written safety plan and failed to adequately surprise a child in violation of a health code.
A GoFundMe created by the parents' friends to fund funeral expenses, the cost of a second and independent autopsy, cooked meals for the family and to compensate for time taken off work has surpassed its goal of $18,000. As of midday Friday, it has raised more than $45,000.