The devastated father of one-year-old who died from a Fentanyl overdose at a Bronx daycare held back tears as he told DailyMail.com that it had been his son’s first week at the center.
Nicholas Feliz-Dominici was identified as deceased toddler who was one of four children to ingest fentanyl while being cared for at the Divino Nino Day Care on Morris avenue in Kingsbridge on Friday afternoon.
The boy’s distraught dad, Otoniel Feliz, 32, appeared teary-eyed as he spoke outside his apartment, just a 15 minute walk from the Morris Avenue childcare center.
‘It was his first week,’ he said. ‘This was his first week.’
Otoniel, who said he’s a father-of-five, moved to the United States in 2018 from the Dominican Republic before moving his family to the apartment close to Divino Nino Day Care in 2019.
He and his wife, who asked to remain anonymous, went to the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center to find a suitable daycare for their son Nicholas.
As they waited close to a year to find a suitable place to care for the young infant they were grateful to hear that Divino Nino Day Care could help them.
‘We had a good recommendation. We were told it was a great place. It looked like a nice place,’ he explained.
Pictured: The one-year-old boy who died after ingesting fentanyl at a Bronx daycare
Otoniel Feliz, appeared bleary eyed as he spoke to MailOnline.com outside his apartment
Police tape had been stripped from the street and hung across the doorway of the Divino Nino Daycare on Morris Avenue
A contamination tent could be seen outside the daycare on Friday afternoon
Four children under the age of three ‘ingested fentanyl’ while on the premises
But within one week of being cared for at the daycare, Nicholas ingested fentanyl – a substance that has caused a spike in overdoses across the U.S.
A heartbroken Otoniel said they’d been given a tour of the daycare the first time they dropped their son off and it looked like any other, with toys and kids’ furniture inside.
But after enrolling their son, Otoniel and his wife were never allowed to come back in their son often being brought to them by their caretakers, he claimed.
‘Parents don’t have permission to go inside. You see it on the first day to see where your son will be, but after that you don’t have permission to go in,’ he claimed.
‘They said they ‘don’t want contamination from the outside to go inside because they keep everything clean,’ that’s what they said.’
Revealing the harrowing moment in which Otoniel and his wife heard the news he explained that she’d gone to pick her son up early from the daycare.
Arriving at the center police tape, emergency services and cops were blocking the street, her heart dropped as she received a call no parent ever wants to hear.
‘My wife called me saying our child is going to hospital. We thought he was fine, 10 minutes later, my wife called me back on the way to the hospital and said he died,’ he explained, fighting back tears.
All four were taken to hospital but Nicholas didn’t survive. The others are in stable condition, with the eight-month-old being treated for dehydration.
The children had allegedly been put down for naps to be woken up at 2:30pm and had eaten something about 90 minutes earlier, sources said.
When cops arrived at the grim scene all four children were administered with Narcan, one of whom responded to the lifesaving drug police said.
Police tape hung across the doorway of the premises on Saturday with officers at the scene continuing their investigation.
Mayor Eric Adams expressed his sympathy for the family, sharing that he had spoken to the parents who lost their son.
At a press conference on Saturday morning, Adams said the event should act as a warning for people with opioids in their homes.
‘To see the pain they are experiencing is something that all of us New Yorkers are experiencing and all of us that are parents.
‘This crisis is real and it is a real wake-up call for individuals who have opioids or fentanyl in their homes.’
The daycare has a capacity of eight children between the ages of six weeks to 12 years old, records show.
One of the women believed to run the daycare has been taken in for questioning.
No arrests have been made in connection with the incident as yet and police are still investigating.
Sources with knowledge of the investigation confirmed ‘multiple drugs were found at the daycare as well as a kilo press
The once active crime scene had turned somber as neighbors began to grapple with the tragedy
Anna Ortiz-Irving, 73, lives in the building next door to the daycare and said she is ‘sick over’ what took place as investigators continue to pore over evidence
Anna Ortiz-Irving, 73, lives in the building next door to the daycare and said she is ‘sick over’ what took place as investigators continue to pore over evidence.
‘I was stunned because this mother and her daughter are the nicest people,’ she told DailyMail.com exclusively, referring to the two women who ran the daycare.
‘From what I’ve heard they found fentanyl in all four babies systems.’
Oritz-Irving said they ‘brought the police dogs on Friday night’ and claims her neighbor, who had been interpreting for police and the super of the building, ‘found drug paraphernalia’ after getting a warrant to search the daycare.
‘They found the cutting machine and what they call a presser,’ she said.
Sources with knowledge of the investigation confirmed ‘multiple drugs were found at the daycare as well as a kilo press.’
A kilo press is used to package large quantities of drugs.
Sources also confirmed all four children ‘came in contact with fentanyl.’
Divino Nino Daycare passed its annual unannounced inspection with zero violations on Sept. 6, city records note after receiving its license in May.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes Fentanyl as a powerful synthetic opioid that is FDA-approved to treat severe pain.
Over the past decade fentanyl has been made and distributed illegally and other illegally made synthetic opioids have been increasingly found in the drug supply.
During this time fentanyl and related substances have contributed to a dramatic rise in drug overdose deaths in the United States.
The rate of drug overdose deaths involving the synthetic opioid fentanyl more than tripled in the United States from 2016 through 2021, according to a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Fentanyl is up to 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine, and has increasingly been mixed with other illicit drugs often with lethal results.
The CDC report showed that the rate of drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl increased from 5.7 per 100,000 people in 2016 to 21.6 per 100,000 in 2021.
Fentanyl-related deaths rose by about 55% in 2019-2020, and 24.1% in 2020-2021, said Merianne Rose Spencer, one of the report’s authors.
In the United States, difficulties in getting treatment for substance use disorders during the COVID pandemic coincided with a jump in use of synthetic opioids like fentanyl, and opioid-related deaths soared to a record-high in 2020.
Between 2016 and 2021, the rate of drug overdose deaths involving methamphetamine increased more than fourfold, and cocaine-related overdose deaths more than doubled, the CDC said.
Oxycodone and heroin deaths fell marginally during the study period.
Roughly 2-in-100,000 died due to oxycodone-related overdose in 2016. That fell to 1.5-in-100,000 people in 2021.
Heroin related deaths decreased from 4.9 per 100,000 in 2016 to 2.9 in 2021, the report found.
The Biden administration has been pushing for action as U.S. drug-related overdose deaths surpassed 100,000 in 2021, according to government estimates.