Tragedy as Artist’s Infant Son Dies in Unlicensed New York Day Care

SoHo Child Care operated at 69 Greene Street in New York.
Photo via Google Maps.

The infant son of photographer and filmmaker Lee Towndrow and writer Amber Scorah tragically died on Monday during his first day at an unlicensed day care facility in New York’s SoHo neighborhood.

SoHo Child Care has been shut down by the authorities in the wake of three-month-old Karl Towndrow’s death, the cause of which has not been announced. The child did not wake up after being put down for a nap, according to the New York Times, which reported that the city’s chief medical examiner is “conducting further studies to determine the cause of death” after an autopsy performed Tuesday.

A GoFundMe page has been established to help the family.

Karl Towndrow. Photo: screenshot of GoFundMe.

Karl Towndrow.
Photo: screenshot of GoFundMe.

Towndrow has won awards including Time magazine’s Best Portraits and a Gold National Magazine Award Canada, both in 2012, and was named among Graphis’s top 100 in photography in 2011. He was director of photography for some sequences in the HBO documentary Going Clear (2015) and served as the cinematographer for The National’s music video for the song Fake Empire.

SoHo Child Care has been in operation since 2001, according to its Yelp page, and is run by Maryellen Strautmanis on Greene Street, where she raised her own children. The Times reports that the city was informed of the illegal child care there in November but could not confirm the report even after a visit by an inspector.

The police told the Times that 14 other children, ranging in age from three months to three years, were under the care of Strautmanis and her three employees.

The facility’s Yelp page indicates that Strautmanis taught high school in Huntington, New York, before studying interior design. She started the company after of the closure of her husband’s company in the wake the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

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