WILSON — A 5-year-old boy in foster care died Tuesday when a 13-year-old girl put into gear a sport utility vehicle she was warming up, running into the boy on a private driveway in Carter County, officials said. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol identified the victim as John Gifford of Wilson, and said the accident occurred shortly before 11 a.m. The boy died at the scene of head injuries, the patrol said. Juanita Havlik, the boy’s grandmother, called The Oklahoman after she was notified of the death. She complained about the care her son’s four youngest children have received since being taken into custody by the Department of Human Services. The state agency took custody of John three years ago, said his father, Melvern Gifford, 40, of Midwest City. Gifford has five other children, two adults with a different mother than John. The other three, ages 11, 9 and 7, all boys, have the same mother as John and also are in state custody, Gifford said. DHS took custody because of abuse and neglect allegations against Gifford and other allegations against the boys’ mother, from whom Gifford was divorced, he said. Gifford said allegations of abuse and neglect on his part were not true. Gifford said he has fought a constant battle to regain custody of his children. He sought to have custody of the boys awarded to him or other adults in his family but was not successful. Gifford acknowledged he’d made mistakes during the process to get the children back, including failing two drug tests and threatening a social worker. But he said he recently got his life in order and got a commercial driver’s license this month, hoping to be a truck driver. A DHS case worker called Gifford on Tuesday to inform him of the accident but would not tell him where it occurred. Gifford said he was not allowed to know where the boys were living. George Johnson, DHS spokesman, confirmed John was in DHS custody but refused to say whether the 13-year-old girl was a foster child. She was not related to the victim by blood, said Gifford’s mother, Havlik, 65, of Oklahoma City. "In any child death, there is an immediate investigation and the results will be turned over to the district attorney,” he said. Johnson said state law prevents him from providing additional details.
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