Seeking answers to toddlers’ death

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“It’s a quiet neighborhood.”

That seemed all many concerned community members could muster Monday afternoon, just hours after two toddlers were found unconscious in their beds and died.

First responders were called to Amalgamated Housing at 98 Van Cortlandt Park S., during the early hours of July 10 to help two young children who were struggling to breathe. By the time EMS arrived, the siblings — Olivia Gee, 2, and Micha Gee, 3 —were already unconscious and unresponsive.

They were rushed to Montefiore Medical Center on East 210th Street where the two would die just minutes apart.

“You always think that you’re supposed to go before your children,” Edward Irizzay said. “I felt real saddened.”

Irizzay, a father of two, has lived in the Amalgamated for the past five years. And during that time, he said, nothing like this has ever happened in the co-op community.

Irizzay first heard police sirens around 2 a.m. When he looked out his window, he was shocked to see so many emergency vehicles. At least five fire trucks and four ambulances lined Gale Street, he said. 

“There were so many lights,” Irizzay said. “I had never seen that many trucks on this block.”

He went outside to find out what was going on, but all law enforcement officers would tell Irizzay was that there was a medical emergency. It was hours later before he heard two children had died.

“I don’t know what happened,” Irizzay said

The investigation is still ongoing, according to police. 

The 50th Precinct station has interviewed both the mother and her boyfriend who were at the home that night, as well as the siblings’ biological father. Autopsies should determine cause of death, but it could be weeks before definitive results are released.

Olivia and Micha both suffered from severe asthma, according to news reports. The city’s health department says more than 80,000 children in New York City suffer from the chronic lung disease, resulting in more than 42,000 emergency room visits and 7,000 hospitalizations each year.

The rate of asthma in the Bronx is higher than any other borough, the department said, with more than 8 percent of people suffering from the condition.

And it’s a dangerous condition to have, said Dr. Monroe Karetzky, director of the Bronx Pulmonary Center. Karetzky, a pulmonary disease specialist, has focused on a lot of his published work on asthma mortality.

“It can appear when somebody is apparently stable,” Karetzky said, adding that death “is always a threat.”

One minute a child can be perfectly normal, and the next something may trigger an attack, he said. Those triggers can include an emotional crisis, an acute viral infection, or even something in their own environment.

 Parents of children with asthma, Karetzky added, should keep a close eye on them and be educated on what to do if there is an attack.

“It’s always there, it doesn’t go away,” he said. “Certainly in urban environments, it’s always talked about exposure to fumes from all sorts of exhaust.”

While it may take some time to get answers to the tragedy, community members of the co-op just south of Van Cortlandt Park are left to wonder what went wrong. 

Lucy Degidon has lived in the Amalgamated for the past decade, but has never seen anything like this. The art teacher and grandmother always worked closely with the children in the neighborhood, creating artwork for the nursery and teaching classes from a studio in the area.

She was surprised by Monday’s events.

“People watch out for the other children,” Degidon said. “It makes me think, ‘Is it something the parents may or may not have done or been aware of?’

“That’s terrible to lose a child. It’s the most awful thing I think you can go through.”

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Michael

This article is elementary at best. Does the writer live at the Amalgamated? I don't know what is more horrifying: the myriad attempts to whitewash the murders of two innocent babies or the actual murders. Make no mistake, Olivia and Micah were MURDERED. Medical Examiner ruled both deaths HOMICIDE. Both children had massive internal injuries and organ damage. Why is this an article about asthma when it should be an article about two or one savages beating two helpless innocent children to death? The coverup is always worse than the crime itself.

Let me repeat the disturbing facts of the matter:

Two innocent children were savagely beaten to death. The mother was a Nurse Practitioner who admitted to smoking weed and drinking beer in her home with two young children who allegedly suffered from severe chronic asthma. A Nurse Practitioner who cares for the health and safety of her children would not allow anyone to smoke in her house!!! Smoke lingers long after the cigarette or joint or bong is extinguished. On clothing, in hair, on walls, in the air. This is a common known fact to any layperson but especially a Nurse.

The boyfriend was a notorious Bloods Gang member/affiliate who told the detectives he was living with the Mother in the apartment at the Amalgamated. He lived with the Mother and the two children. Everyone knows the Bloods move drugs - specifically fentanyl laced heroin - so maybe the BX Homicide Detectives (not the god awful 50th Precinct Detectives who work in the country club of NYPD Precincts) should figure out if the mother and the live in boyfriend were dealing heroin around The Amalgamated with other Bloods gang members who may be living or working there? If I am not mistaken, a couple of apartments were raided by a few law enforcement agencies after the Orloff Organization was popped by the Feds in 2014? This following a drug mule delivering heroin to the BX2 Bus Driver who used his bus route - which runs through the Amalgamated's Van Cortlandt Village - to drop off heroin to neighborhood dealers. These people at the Amalgamated have been suspect for a long time and I would not be surprised if they bought a stake in this newspaper because the writers seem very lazy about doing any investigative reporting when something happens in the neighborhood Ed "Yiggy" Yaker controls.

Maybe you should look into how the body of Robert Lane was found in the pond down the hill from the Amalgamated the same morning the toddlers died from massive internal bleeding and blunt force trauma? Maybe Mr. Lane - who also lived at the Amalgamated - overdosed on fentanyl laced heroin or someone slipped him some bad medication? He had been missing since July 3 and just so happened to float to the surface of a pond the same day the toddlers were murdered??? Something stinks about the Amalgamated.

Put your thinking caps on. In the meantime, we'll be watching and will stay vigilant. Nobody is going to murder two innocent babies in the neighborhood and get away with it. I don't care what gang or cult or organization or non profit they belong to. Someone better be held accountable for the deaths of the two babies and Mr. Lane. And they should suffer a fate worse than what was savagely inflicted on those children no matter where they seek sanctuary. Anyone who harbors or aids a murdering beast to ensure they are spared the wheels of justice should be charged with obstruction - that includes family and former employers as well.

Asthma didn't kill Olivia and Micah though it sounds like that's how you've been directed to spin the story. Journalistic Integrity used to mean something. And it's GALE PLACE not "Gale Street".

Yesterday at 3:04 AM | Report this
Michael Hinman

Just to note that this story was published ahead of the release of the medical examiner's report. A story in the July 20 edition addresses the homicide finding.

2 hours ago | Report this