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Oklahoma family mourns for little boy

BY JOHNNY JOHNSON Modified: November 27, 2008 at 3:31 pm •  Published: November 27, 2008
/articleid/3325649/1/pictures/520771">Photo - Dewanna Cleary holds a photo of her grandson John Brian  Gifford, 5, who died Tuesday.  Photo BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN
Dewanna Cleary holds a photo of her grandson John Brian Gifford, 5, who died Tuesday. Photo BY DOUG HOKE, THE OKLAHOMAN

Samantha Cleary said she also lost custody her only daughter, Brittany, age 3, who had a different father.

A DHS official said Wednesday he could not by law provide any details about the accident or the foster care situation.

Dewanna Cleary said she’s still finding it hard to accept that John is gone, but she said she has no ill feelings toward the foster parents or toward the girl who hit him.

"My heart just goes out to that little girl, she’ll have nightmares probably her whole life now,” Dewanna Cleary said.

But that doesn’t stop her from wanting more details.

"We don’t even know if she was living at the same house or was just a neighbor. I know Wilson is a farming community and kids do drive young. But like any family, we want details. We want to know what really happened. We want to know was John Brian happy there.”

Samantha Cleary said her son was the "best baby” in the world. He never cried and everyone called him Smiley. She said she made an appointment with a lawyer to find out if she has any hope of getting the other children back.

Samantha Cleary said she’s not certain she will get to speak to any of them at John’s funeral on Sunday, but she hopes they will be there so she will at least get to see them from across the room.

This Thanksgiving, Dewanna Cleary said, she and her daughter are having a hard time finding anything to be thankful for.

"I don’t even have any money to send flowers to his funeral,” the grandmother said.

She said she is finding comfort in the dozens of friends who are offering to help, but even that support falls short when she remembers the image of John-John in his little yellow jacket.

"I hope God gives comfort to everybody involved because everybody’s hurting, and it’s going to take someone much stronger than us to sort this thing out.” has disabled the comments for this article.


"� Video

Look for "Today’s Paper” to watch an interview with

Dewanna Cleary.


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