Death of 13-Year-Old Son Rocks YouTube Family Act ‘Bratayleys’

A family that had turned their lives into a popular reality show for digital platforms like YouTube is facing the dilemma of how that show goes on following the sudden death of their 13-year-old son.

The outpouring of grief for a teen known to fans as Caleb Logan Bratayley has barely abated since his mother announced his passing Oct. 2 on Instagram, where over 163,000 comments express their stunned sadness.

She reported he had died the previous evening of “natural causes”; the ambiguity of that explanation has only fueled rumor-mongering all over the Internet as to what specifically could cause an otherwise healthy-looking pre-adolescent to pass away.

That’s part of the challenge facing the Bratayleys, who are seeking privacy for the first time since opening their lives to public consumption since 2010 in daily videos that have amassed over 1 billion views on YouTube alone, according to data from Tubular Labs. Their most popular episode singlehandedly generated over 22 million streams on YouTube.

“We know you tune in to watch every day and eagerly anticipate new videos, but ask that you bear with us while we deal with this tragedy as a family,” wrote his mother, Katie, on Instagram, where their photos reach over 431,000 followers. Bratayley isn’t said to be the family’s real surname and they don’t identify where they live in the U.S.

Maker Studios, the Walt Disney-owned digital-media company that counted Bratayley as one of the thousands of acts it represents online, offered their condolences in a statement. “We are heartbroken at the tragic loss of Caleb from Bratayley, a beloved member of the Maker family. Our love, support, thoughts, and prayers are with the Bratayley family.”

Caleb had just appeared in a video the day before his death, joking around while eating breakfast with his mother and two younger sisters, Annie, 10, and Hayley, 7. In addition to the videos on the main YouTube channel, which contains a text reference to his passing but no new episodes, the children each made appearances on other channels reflecting their interests in hobbies like video games and gymnastics.

But the vacuum of new video or social media posts since the death was announced has been filled by overflowing tributes from fans of all ages in the comments sections across the family’s array of digital accounts. “I’m going off Snapchat and Instagram today because it’s upsetting to be constantly reminded,” wrote a fan named Katelynn on an Instagram account created to honor his memory, branded ‘RIP Caleb’ between crying emojis.

But the grief is also commingling with ceaseless speculation from fans offering theories or claiming inside information about his death. Some have denounced it as a stunt. But a source familiar with the family said no information is available yet regarding the circumstances surrounding the death.

The Bratayleys are one of the more prominent examples of the Internet’s family vlog channels, which feature real-life families that offer up the humor of their everyday existence for entertainment that extends to Facebook, Twitter and even live-streaming apps like Periscope.

While a decidedly digital endeavor, the family-vlog genre blends the wholesome fun of parent-child interactions of TV sitcoms going back to “Leave It to Beaver” with the fly-on-the-wall aesthetic of unscripted fare like “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo.”

Perhaps the most popular of the family vloggers, Shaytards, have even crossed over into TV, where Shay Carl appears on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Another family vlogger, Samuel Rader, made headlines over the summer when his name popped up on the Ashley Madison data hack weeks after a video of him surprising his wife with a home pregnancy test went viral.

The Bratayleys probably aren’t anywhere near rivaling the profits that come to the talent behind TV’s hits, but a mix of advertising revenue, merchandise and other revenue streams like personal appearances are turning amateur digital stars into millionaires. Family vlogs in particular are rife with product integrations in which marketers pay families to demonstrate their new wares.

Disney had just put Caleb to work in August as part of the massive “unboxing” event promoting the release of toys related to the upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” movie.

Should the Bratayley return to the Internet, they will find themselves in a predicament not unlike many a hit TV show have found themselves in over the years when a cast member dies, which impacts fictional storylines, as ABC dealt with in 2003 when “8 Simple Rules” was interrupted by the death of star John Ritter. But as entertainment about a real-life family, the Bratayleys may have no choice but to acknowledge the passing of their son and figure out how to get their way back to laughter.

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  1. dictator erdogan says:

    screen monkey of the youtuber bratayley caleb’s killers julide ates, gulay afsar and others can go into the usa. an american citizen got murdered before the whole world but evereybody chooses to ignore it. they got killed many other innocent people in turkey, too. tayyip erdogan is a dictator and killer. just take a look at turkish tv channels and turkish parliament to see the killers.

  2. one minutes says:

    just search youtube videos from turkey typing ” 1 ekim(october) 2015″. then you’ll find out who got him killed.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I want to believe that caleb passed but somethings telling me it’s all a lie …I love you bratalyleys for ever and always thanks for sharing yalls laughfters with us Caleb

  4. it is really sad that caleb has died he was the funny one in the all the episodes. i feel sorry for u bratayley. will this be the end for u or r u going to keep on filming. i am your biggest fan.

  5. Rowdah says:

    I missed you and really realy missed i love you 😍❤️

  6. janice haris says:

    how come no one can see the dogs sadness and his sickness?

  7. Angela says:

    Sorry to hear:( My daughter loved to watch them. She showed me the last video. Last part of the video ..in the evening..my first thought too was..like this kid was on something? Kinda Slurring, dry mouth, all over the place, way he was acting in general:( maybe not..as it was my first viewing??

  8. Guest says:

    So sad he was so young only 13
    Such a tragity

  9. I actually didn’t even know of the Disney purchase on Maker. But I digress:

    Yes, this is incredibly tragic….and, well, strange! I hate to add to an already overloaded chorus: but what in blazes happened to the lad?? You don’t just kick off like that at such a youthful turn in life…

  10. Sara says:

    😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😢😢😢😢😢😢😢

  11. Dan says:

    My heart goes out to the family. But something is certainly wrong in those last minutes of his last video. It is not up to me to try and guess anything nor is it up to anyone else. But it should be up to us to say a prayer in your own way for his family.

  12. #littleloo says:

    Its defently true it was on the raideo today.I dont know about birtaley but my friends watch it.when i heard it on the news it was heart breaking poor kid.reast in peace Caleb.:(

  13. ma says:

    im sorry caleb

  14. daver says:

    RIP KIDO, such a cute kid!

  15. Jane Wright says:

    Depending on state laws, unexplained deaths in the home may be required to have an autopsy performed. Caleb’s last videos show an extremely tired, sometimes weak and dizzy, child. Perhaps undetected heart disease will be determined to be the culprit.

  16. Richard Ward says:

    Very strange..They allegedly lived in Maryland. How can a helathy 13 year old die of ‘Natural Causes’? Their last name is also not Brataylay.??? Maybe the Family will come forward with more info..? RIP Caleb..hope the wholw story becomes available soon…Too hard to believe.

  17. summer says:

    How could he of died its a problem

  18. Frankie says:

    There is such a thing as sudden adult death syndrome maybe you should research it before you start throwing around all your ‘theories’

  19. nolimt chase says:

    somethings not right bout this ending.

  20. XFusionTeenX says:

    this cant be true is caleb actually dead

  21. fsb says:

    surely there will be something on the news or an autopsy done. this has broke our hearts. we love this family.

  22. Danielle says:

    I knew nothing nor heard of this family. I watched a tribute video and its clear they live in maryland. I am born and raised here and still live here. I noticed the walmart they went to and the surroundings and other stores they went to. I did not know until doing a google search that they don’t reveal where they live and find that odd. When they post so many videos it only took me watching the first 5 minutes of a tribute video to see they live here. Wonder why they don’t want folks to know but they post their outings which shows license plates showing md and all the stores?

    I also find it odd on the Wikipedia page that in two years all their pets but one died. A cat, frog, two guinea pigs, and two french bulldogs and now their 13 year old. I think there is something in the house making them all sick. Am i crazy or does anyone else find this really weird that 6 pets and a child dies in less than a two year span? I don’t think at all it’s the parents but the area they are in based on the Wal-Mart they say is close to their home is all well water. A couple years ago there was a huge lawsuit in that same area where Exxon had leakage from a gas station contaminated the water source. If someone would also look this up and tell me if you think this could be what happened to all these poor pets and child. Its called harford county md is where they live and to be a little more specific the town is either Abingdon as thats where the Wal-Mart is or bel air which is close and also fallston is where the son played baseball. Just google water contamination in harford county md.

  23. leila says:

    I am so sorry you you guys, may he rest in peace 😢

  24. River says:

    I feel so sorry for you guys!! iam 10 years old and that message at the end was heartbreaking! ill tell my mum and dad about this!! the best people are lost! I lost my great grandfather and a friend…I know ow you feel…..DX…..best of luck

  25. Jamie says:

    I am so sorry for ur loss, you seemed like a happy family now i can’t imagine how you would feel right now losing your child.

  26. Jamie says:

    curtis hezfeld i am actually crying reading these comments

  27. Jamie says:

    Thats so sad
    I am so sorry

  28. A child should never precede the parents in death. Its the most painful experience imaginable. I know the pain of the 15 year old Caleb Bratayley parents. I lost my only child and son Colton. He was young as well. 21 years old. He passed away 3 years this December 6th. One day it might almost be bearable. Thoughts are to Calebs parents and little sisters.

  29. RIP Caleb says:

    #calebsmileproject can you take a selfie of yourself and hasttag #calebsmileproject on instagram plz
    eventhough he is gone he is always here with us

  30. Micha'ele says:

    Well said, I was thinking the same thing as I read this article. Life is precious but only when you truly live it, and I have a hard time believing we can truly live and enjoy our lives and be present when we are looking at it through a video lense or smart phone. It saddens me though to understand that this was an entire family vlogging their lives. In one aspect it can be viewed as such but in another way they have their sons videos that captured glimpses of his life.
    I wish their family peace and sympathy during this time. I can’t help but feel that life has a way of making us look at the things that are important when events like this occur. I can’t even imagine losing a child let alone in front of millions of people.
    My daughter and her friends were talking about his passing and she asked me how was it possible that a young man could just suddenly and so unexpectedly pass away “from natural causes”. Her questions were likely out of fear, and I did my best to ease her mind, as we have no idea what they, or he was actually going through. Their videos were likely only what they wanted us to see. As our conversation ensued, she did ask me to read a post made by his mother. My thought, ironic.

  31. Sarah B says:

    Never heard of them or saw them before today – they seem like a happy family – I am sooo sorry for their loss! Praying for peace and comfort for all the family – I cannot imagine what they must be feeling right now!

  32. Grace havner says:

    Hi I’m very sad cause of his loss he was a happy little boy we miss u Caleb

  33. Kirk says:

    “the tragic loss of Caleb from Bratayley, a beloved member of the Maker family.” Holy cow, if that statement doesn’t reduce the kid to a mere commodity, I don’t know what does.

  34. I can’t believe that Caleb has passed he was important on there you tube channel we will miss him we are all a big bundle of baked potatos.😢😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

  35. Kelly Scott says:

    can people not see the level of depression in this kids eyes /????? his responses as well.. guaranteed these people are totally absorbed in making videos and even make his death a bit of a circus act.. i can see trouble in his eyes .. are people blind???? so many people are so so disconnected from their kids emotions it is scary.. get off the video making and try being parents and make contact with who they really are.. enough of the videos ..wtf is wrong with you ??

    • thomas says:

      so sad, but no one has commented about his slurred speech and his inability to pronounce words correctly or completely during the taping at the end, looks like he was on some kind of meds that dry your mouth out and slur your speech. We will see.

      • Dee says:

        no kidding,(Kelly Scott). That last video of him at breakfast he looks like he don’t even want to be there in their little video.
        And yes Thomas, I noticed that too. He was so all over the place. He couldn’t stay still and his speech was off. Hopefully we will know what really happened.

    • punkfunk13 says:

      His eyes looked like lots of kids that have allergies or maybe it was an undiagnosed heart defect. All I know is healthy 13 year olds don’t die of natural causes.

    • Username says:

      He didn’t kill himself he died of natural cause , there’s nothing to type about depression.

  36. Yanna says:

    I stared to cry and didn’t know what to do. I pray for the family and hope the girls are OK. Its like when there consent died. Please pray and he was an amazing person. R.I.P Caleb Logan.

  37. Amy says:

    They posted a new video today all bout Caleb. It’s sad that he had to die but he is with his cousin and the lord now. May he rip

  38. Panos says:

    i think it’s disrespectful to compare these people’s youtube videos with tv series. show some respect

  39. Lia says:

    I hate that he died he was an amazing person and brightened up my days he is so adorable and incredible I love u Caleb

  40. Bulky says:

    I loved bratayley :( It will never be the same without caleb! D:

  41. Sophie says:

    #RIP CALEB gone but never forgotten

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