What was meant to be a fun night with friends and four-wheelers turned into a tragic scene in the small town of Muldrow, Oklahoma, leaving 16-year-old Christian Mayberry paralyzed in a ditch, fighting for his life, unable to explain what happened.
Trooper Jeremy Weedon of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol arrived at the scene around 11:45 p.m. on September 1, 2013 and reported the incident as a simple accident collision, but he soon learned there may be a lot more to the story.
“A criminal investigation is being conducted to investigate discrepancies in the actual time of the crash and who was operating the ATV,” Trooper Weedon wrote in his report.
Trooper Weedon believed Christian was in the driver’s seat that night, reporting he was on the ATV alone and simply ran off the road based on witness statements from Kyle Brannon, Christian’s classmate, and a minor who is not being named. Brannon and the minor both allegedly admitted to underage drinking in an interview conducted by Weedon.
Brannon was taken to jail for allegedly being drunk in public after Weedon said he found two unopened beer cans that were “cool to the touch” at the crash site. But according to police, this was just the tip of the iceberg.
Police said the ATV belonged to Angela Gray, a government employee of the Muldrow school district, whose kids are classmates with Christian and Brannon. Authorities began to wonder where Angela was at the time of the accident.
On the night of the crash, Christian and a few friends planned on spending time by a local hangout known as “the bottoms,” a wooded, muddy area where teens like to ride ATVs. Christian’s mother, Kim Mayberry, learned the devastating news the following day that her son had been in an accident.
“I thought it was something silly, just a minor accident, but when I heard that he was flown to St. John’s Hospital in Tulsa, I literally went down on my knees and started calling out to God. I knew it was serious,” Kim Mayberry told HLN.
At the time, Kim Mayberry was with her daughter, Mia, in Mexico, celebrating her 50th birthday in their very first trip overseas together.
“Christian never gets in trouble. Even if he was driving, there couldn’t have been an accident because he is always so cautious,” Mayberry said she thought when she heard about the crash.
Christian was in the care of his father back in Oklahoma, who left him under the supervision of Angela Gray that fateful night. The Mayberry family says Gray never called them that night to let them know what happened.
Investigator Eric Helms with the District 27 Drug and Violent Crime Task Force was brought in to further investigate the incident by Stephanie Milburn, the assistant district attorney from Wagoner County handling the case.
“This is an ongoing investigation and we do believe other people may have been involved,” Milburn told HLN.
With no mention of Gray at the scene in the initial reports, authorities learned at a later date that Gray was in fact there and a passenger on the ATV with Christian, according to court documents. Investigator Eric Helms told HLN that Gray is considered a suspect in the case because “she was at the scene and failed to report it.”
Immediately following the crash, police said Brannon told them he poured beer in Christian’s face in an attempt to wake him up, but without success.
Blood was coming out of Christin’s ears and Brannon said he feared his friend was going to die, according to court documents.
According to Christian’s mother, there was no alcohol found in her son’s blood the night of the accident.
Even after police said Brannon admitted to them the severity of the events that occurred that night, Helms told Brannon “it appeared that Mayberry laid there for about three hours before they actually called 911 for the ambulance,” according to his report. The 911 call to report the accident was placed around midnight, but just a few hours earlier at about 9 p.m., the time when Helms believes the crash occurred, a number linked to Brannon logged two calls to 911 that were “unanswered by caller,” according to reports.
Christian was in a coma, unable to move or speak, for about 5 months after the accident. He has made some progress, but his mother said, “He is just sick and not good. We thought he was under control…He is talking very little now, but he doesn’t have his wits about him.”
Christian still cannot move the entire left side of his body and spends his days in a hospital bed.
“I am not satisfied with the case, there is more to it, seems to be some cover-up going on. I don’t stop – it bothers me when the evidence doesn’t add up,” Helms told HLN.
One key witness, a minor, claims he saw Gray and Christian at a Shell gas station before the accident. The minor told police he was sure the time was before 9 p.m. since that was his curfew. In his statement to authorities, the minor allegedly claimed Gray “was in the driver’s seat and the ATV was running,” adding that Christian told him Gray had been drinking all evening.
Other witnesses who arrived at the scene after the crash stated that another minor claimed Gray was driving as well, according to witness statements in the police affidavit. Another witness, Chicago Chandler, stated Gray came to her house around 1:00 a.m. after the crash and that she “was pretty intoxicated,” documents state.
Ray Hamilton, another witness, claimed he “could smell and see by Angela’s actions that she had been drinking beer and was drunk,” according to his witness statement in Helms’ affidavit. Hamilton added that when he was approached by a minor at the scene, the minor told him that Gray was driving the ATV.
Brannon has been charged with destroying evidence and obstructing an officer.
“Kyle said they were scared that Angela would get in trouble because she was drunk and she was with them who were all underage drinking…Kyle said they cleaned up the scene of the wrecked ATV throwing the beer in the woods and placed the ice chest in [minor’s] truck…after the ambulance picked up Mayberry they cleaned up the rest of the beer and took off on the ATV and met OHP,” Helm stated in a court affidavit after an initial interview with Kyle Brannon.
A month later, Helms said he re-interviewed Brannon concerning allegations of a cover-up.
“Kyle would grin or smile while talking, causing this investigator to believe that certain statements were deceptive,” Helm said.
Brannon’s attorney declined to give HLN a comment on the case.
Gray, according to her statement in Helms’ affidavit, denied ever driving the ATV, but she allegedly admitted to being a passenger. She submitted to a polygraph examination on September 5, 2013, police said.
Documents state the examination showed a 99% deception from Gray when she answered “NO” to the questions of: “Were you driving the Ranger ATV at the time of the crash?” and “Were you driving the Ranger ATV on the dirt road at the time of the crash?”
HLN reached out to Gray, but she declined to comment.
Kyle Brannon remains the only person facing charges in this case. He appeared in court on June 20, where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing, and is set for jury trial. Brannon has pleaded not guilty.
Despite her son’s impressive build, Kim Mayberry described Christian as “afraid to get hurt or hurt others – not at all your typical rambunctious teenage boy. Christian was simply a gentle giant.”
She has been by Christian’s side and continues to struggle through his rehabilitation. She said, “My biggest goal is that by getting national attention we can get help for Christian, that a caring rehab center somewhere will take him and give him what he needs.”
Christian has been staying at a nursing home in Oklahoma since his family cannot afford any other care. Kim Mayberry said he should be getting at least three hours of intensive rehab a day but instead is only receiving 45 minutes twice a week.
A fund has been setup to aid in Christian’s medical bills at www.youcaring.com/mayberry as well as a Facebook page titled “Pray for Mayberry.”