Infant dies in possibly illegal Elmhurst day care

Photo by Joe Anuta
By Joe Anuta

A 2-month-old baby girl died Saturday after police responded to what may have been an unlicensed daycare center operating on the second floor of an Elmhurst home, police and city agencies said.

At about 8:45 a.m., police answered a 911 call, at 92-45 55th Ave., and found infant Jennifer Zheng unresponsive, according to police.

EMS took Jennifer to Elmhurst Hospital, where the child was pronounced dead.

As of press time, the medical examiner had not determined the cause of death and the investigation was ongoing, according to the NYPD.

Neighbors who witnessed the scene said a woman who walked out of the home appeared pale as she got into emergency vehicles after EMS workers carried out the little girl.

“It’s kind of disturbing,” said a neighbor, who only wanted to be identified as Jason. “I have a toddler myself.”

While Jason and other neighbors said they never witnessed any activity that would suggest an unlicensed daycare was being run out of the house, that is exactly what the NYPD told the city Department of Buildings, according to a complaint on file in a city database.

The complaint alleges that the business was operating on the second floor, where several cribs were found, the New York Post reported.

In response, the department issued a vacate order Saturday and a notice posted to the front door warned anyone who entered the second or third floors of the house might be arrested due to the floors being deemed “imminently perilous to life.”

A man who walked out the front door Sunday afternoon said, “I don’t know” when asked by TimesLedger Newspapers what had happened to Jennifer.

The house is owned by Wei Yee and Kuo Ping Cheng, according to records from the city Department of Finance, and is only legally allowed to house one family.

But neighbors said at least two lived at the residence.

The side yard of the house was littered with construction materials, where a large Rottweiler dog paced between discarded bathroom fixtures, buckets of waterproofing liquid and a detached vehicle door.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

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