WILSON — A 5-year-old boy who was in foster care was killed today when he was hit by a car that a 13-year-old girl had started up to warm the engine. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol identified the victim as John Gifford of Wilson, and said the accident happened shortly before 11 a.m. The car was parked in a private driveway when the girl started the engine, shifted it into gear and moved forward, striking the boy, troopers said. Nita Havlik, the boy’s paternal grandmother, called The Oklahoman today after she was notified of the death. She complained about the care her son’s four youngest children have received since being taken into state custody by the Department of Human Services. Initially the four boys were placed in a foster home where the foster father wanted to teach them how to use guns, hunt and trap, Havlik said. “One of the boys shot his brother in the ear with a plastic pellet,” Havlik said, adding that John — the youngest — was not involved in that shooting. The children were then split up and sent to four different foster homes, Havlik said. Havlik said her son, Melvern Lester Gifford, 40, has battled DHS in an unsuccessful effort to get his boys back and was furious when DHS called to say the youngest boy was dead. Havlik said her son had been raising the children alone after their mother left. DHS took custody of the boys about two years ago after accusing her son of neglect, Havlik said. “Most of the issues were false,” she contends. Havlik said Melvern Gifford has six children, but the two oldest are grown. She said DHS recently notified him they were placing his kids up for adoption and initiated efforts to make him pay thousands of dollars in child support. George Johnson, DHS spokesman, confirmed today that the 5-year-old child who was killed was in DHS custody, but refused to say whether the 13-year-old girl was a foster child as well. She was not related to the victim by blood, the grandmother said. “In any child death there is an immediate investigation and the results will be turned over to the district attorney as required by law,” Johnson said. Johnson said state law prevents him from providing additional details about the situation.
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