Mom dies at 27, leaving 6 kids; Dad will return to Rifle
The McCormick family expected the new year to begin a bright path forward. They were in a new town, their dream house and their family was whole with their sixth child, 6-month-old Eleazhyn. Instead of celebration, they awoke Jan. 1 to tragedy. The matriarch of the family, Shayla Brantley, died unexpectedly in her sleep. She was 27.
Just hours after her passing, friends and family of the McCormicks set up a Go Fund Me campaign to honor Shayla’s memory. In its first five days, the campaign accrued nearly $10,000 in donations.
“I am amazed at just how many people loved her and came together to help me out,” husband Garrett McCormick told the Post Independent. “I plan on using it just for emergencies, stash cash if I need an extra hand. You won’t see me going out and blowing it all or doing anything stupid.”
Garrett and Shayla had been together for eight years, married for seven, and recently moved to Grand Junction after living in an apartment in Rifle. The two have six children, ages 6 months to 7 years old.
Since the birth of their first child, Shayla had worked as a stay-at-home mom, but after the birth of Eleazhyn she got back into the workforce to help with the family’s finances and was about to start a second job at Strive in Grand Junction, working with mentally disabled individuals.
Her untimely passing leaves Garrett as the sole supporter of the six children, and without her additional income the family has few places left to turn.
“It took both of us to do everything for this household,” Garrett added. “We’ve had friends stop by and hang out with the kids. All you have to do is hang out with them for a second and you can see her.”
In short conversations with friends and family and after reading the comments and posts on the campaign, it’s clear that she loved nothing more in this world than being a mother.
“What she cared most about was her kids,” said one of her best friends, Parachute resident Kimber Chapman, who started the online campaign for the McCormick family. “She loved to be with her kids and did everything with them. They were her pride and joy.”
According to Chapman, Shayla, an only child, always wanted a big family with lots of children and loving parents.
“She was an only child so she wanted to give her kids friendships through siblings,” Chapman explained. “That’s what is so heartbreaking about this is that they will never really get to know their mother.”
After seeing the immediate success of her Go Fund Me campaign, Chapman praised the community for being so supportive once again.
This is Chapman’s second successful campaign after she raised $6,000 to help with medical bills and hospital transportation for her 3-year-old daughter. Her daughter has congenital heart disease and Down syndrome.
“Shayla just had this gift with my kids, and my youngest just fell in love with her right away,” Chapman said. “I really trusted Shayla with my youngest. I trusted her to let her baby-sit and I don’t trust anyone with her because she is so sick.”
Chapman vows to help Garrett out with the children as much as she can because she knows Shayla would have done the same.
“People that I didn’t even know her are showing her so much love,” Chapman added. “She has been through so much and everyone is finally coming together to show her the support she deserves.”
Shayla grew up in the foster system in the area and according to Chapman, “the whole valley knew her.”
According to the Go Fund Me campaign, the McCormick family has received donations from families in Rifle, Parachute, Glenwood Springs, Silt, among other towns.
Garrett plans to move his family back to Rifle, out of Shayla’s dream house in Grand Junction, because he feels he can get more support from friends and the community in Rifle.
Family and friends cremated Shayla on Friday afternoon and plan to do a balloon release with her ashes when they receive them.
The cause of death is pending a toxicology, and according to the Mesa County coroner’s office it may take up to six weeks for results to get back.
“When someone this young passes, it’s not always as simple to rule a cause of death as it would be with someone much older, “ said Mesa County Deputy Coroner Victor Yahn.
Yahn did not believe that the cause of death was a result of complications from a hysterectomy she received prior to her death.
The Go Fund Me campaign could be found at https://www.gofundme.com/shaylasmemorial.
The greater community is invited to join a Celebration of Pepi’s Life on Friday, Sept. 20, at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.