A three-year-old boy in New York City died on 3 November after he went into anaphylactic shock when he was allegedly given a grilled cheese sandwich in his school, according to a GoFundMe page for the child.
Elijah Silvera, studying in pre-K class at Seventh Avenue Center for Family Services in Harlem, had dairy allergy, his family said and alleged that the school fed him the cheese sandwich despite knowing about his allergic condition.
Authorities have launched an investigation into the toddler's death and said that the school will remain shut until the probe was over.
"There is nothing more important than the safety of our children and we are deeply saddened by this tragedy. We will get to the bottom of what happened here. In the meantime, we're closing the Center for Family Services and continuing to aggressively investigate what happened and whether the facility could have done something differently to prevent this tragedy," the New York City Health Department said in a statement, as reported by New York's WPIX news.
According to the GoFundMe page, the child's family want to raise funds not only to bear the funeral expenses, but also to be able to conduct a second and independent autopsy to determine the actual cause of the toddler's death.
"At this moment, it is unclear where responsibility for Elijah's death will fall between the pre-K and the hospital itself," the family members, who created the page, stated.
"There are protocols that both the hospital and preschool must follow. We want to find out exactly what caused Elijah's death and that will mean sorting out exactly where, if any, breakdowns may have occurred at either the school or the hospital. Having a third party medical examination will ensure our ability to get a clear picture. We just want justice for Elijah," they said.
The family members added that the child's death "was completely preventable", arguing that nearly 5.9 million children under the age of 18 suffer from food allergies in the US.
"That's 1 in 13 children, which works out to roughly two children with allergies inside of every US classroom. We can and must do more to protect our children from life-threatening allergic reactions in US schools," they said.
Mother Dina, father Thomas and five-year-old elder brother Sebastian are members of Elijah's immediate family.