Keep Cooper Home!

Chandler and Cooper's story as told by her parents, Pat and Candace Harris:

We lost our sweet Chandler on October 7 last year. 
She left behind Cooper, her 4 year old son, who we love deeply. They have always lived with us and we helped Chan raise him since the day he was born. 

The funds we are requesting are to help pay for some of the legal fees as we continue fighting to keep him here with us, in the only home he has ever known. 

There is SO much more to this story and we have included some of it here. Please take the time to read it, and even if you can't donate, please share it, as we believe, and think you will agree that there has been some questionable actions on behalf of the court system and some others involved...

Just over two years ago, Chandler and her two year old son, Cooper were involved in a horrific automobile accident on their way home from the family cabin on Kolob.  

Cooper was uninjured, but Chandler was trapped with her arm stuck beneath the truck for nearly four hours.  Once Chandler was finally removed from the wreckage she was told she may lose her arm. But after witnessing her will and determination, the doctors at the hospital were convinced that they may be able to save it.
Chandler endured months of excruciating pain, surgeries, skin grafts and rehabilitation.

Not once during all that time did she ever doubt that she would make a full recovery and regain full use of her arm.

Chandler's ability to overcome all of the obstacles thrown at her with grace, humor and a positive attitude was absolutely amazing.  There were so many people following Chan's journey that KSL decided to do a story about her wreck, the rescue, and her road to recovery.

 Over the next two years following her accident we had the privilege of watching Chandler grow into a truly beautiful human being both inside and out. We are so proud of the woman and mommy she had become.   Chandler was an inspiration to so many people. Something she often said was, "When asked if my cup is half full or half empty, my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup."

Cooper was, of course, the love of her life.
Everything Chan did was for Cooper and to give him the best life possible. She took nothing for granted and tried to make everyday an adventure. We supported her 100% and pulled together as a family so that we could all be the best parents Cooper could ask for. 

Chandler had reached a point in her life where things were starting to fall into place.
She had just purchased the truck of her dreams in May, 100% on her own.  Chandler was excelling in her career and had taken her agent to #1 in the company!   And then there was Jordan. They had started dating recently and she was absolutely crazy about him.

All of this makes the night of October 7, 2017 that much harder to understand. She and Cooper were in high spirits when they left the house that afternoon. Both of them were looking forward to spending the day with Jordan and some other friends and their families on Kolob riding atvs.

After riding and dinner Chandler and Cooper lay down on the couch for a nap. And that was it. Chandler never woke up. Cooper was asleep in her arms when she died. He laid there with her until Jordan checked on Chandler later that night and found her cold. 

We won't even attempt to explain the pain we are feeling over the loss of our daughter, as there are no words that can adequately describe it. 
There has been one thing that has been truly amazing, and that is how strong Cooper has been throughout this whole thing. If he sees that we are sad, Cooper will tell us, "Remember? Mommy is  in our heart."

To lose Chandler so suddenly after everything she had been through and had managed to overcome is still such a shock and we haven't had much of a chance to try and process it or even grieve for her because we have spent every waking moment since the day after we buried her focused on keeping custody of Cooper. 

This is because Cooper's "father" sent the police to our house in an attempt to take him the day after Chandler was laid to rest. Luckily Cooper wasn't home at the time and our local police department could see right away that it would be devastating to Cooper to take him away from the only home and family he has ever known, especially right after he lost his mommy. So the officers said that they would not allow the father to take him without a court order. 

We are the only parents, besides Chandler, Cooper has ever known. He has always lived in our home and we believe that this is why he has been able to cope so well with his mommy's death. Because he still has his other two "parents" and is living in the same home with them, in his same room, is still involved in the same activities, has the same structure,  and has literally hundreds of cousins and extended family in the immediate area to provide him with additional love and support. 

Cooper's father even admitted in an email to us a few weeks after Chandler's death that he knew the best thing for Cooper would be to remain at home with us. He also stated that he only wanted to get to know Cooper and perhaps become part of his life over time. However, once we got into court his father completely changed his tune and asked for full custody of Cooper.  We would like to make it clear that his father was NEVER denied access to Cooper. However, he only managed to come down to see him twice in four years and never once called to talk to him.  

 Now the Legal Stuff: The law does state that a parent has the right to raise their own child as they see fit, but there are exceptions to this. We meet all of the qualifications required to maintain custody of Cooper. Most notably that we have taken on the parental roles for Cooper and formed an emotional bond that would be detrimental to him if he was forced to leave. Cooper has even told his father that he does not want to live with him. 

Judge Ludlow gave the father visitation at first. So Cooper could get to know him. He was allowed 8 hours every Saturday, supervised by us, for about 3 months. The father did not show up on time once, nor did he ever stay the entire 8 hours. 

We also have documentation proving the father was never denied access to Cooper. Chandler saved all of their texts. We have emails where the father states to us he knows he didn't try to be a father to Cooper in the past. Every single claim we made in court has documentation to back it up. 

We do not believe that the judge actually looked at all of this or took any of it into consideration. And apparently 3 months of visits is enough to make up for not being around or supporting Cooper in any way for over 4 1/2 years.

Ludlow's final ruling is that we are to turn Cooper over on June 29 to the father to live in Spanish Fork. To be raised by a step-mother he doesn't even know. We were given the standard every-other weekend visitation. 

There is no one who knows of our situation that could HONESTLY say that removing Cooper from our home and care and moving him nearly 300 miles away to be raised by a step-mother that he doesn't know and a father, who is a virtual stranger and would only see him for a couple of hours in the evening, would not be extremely traumatic  to this little boy who just lost his Mommy. 

We have petitioned the court and had the case moved to juvenile court. We will also be requesting a custody evaluator who, hopefully, will take into consideration Cooper's best interest, as the courts are supposed to. 

The money raised will go to help pay these additional legal fees. We are still waiting for a hearing date and are told the custody evaluator will cost $6000. 

We our so grateful to our family and this amazing community that we live in for all of the help and support we have received. We will NEVER stop fighting for Cooper. We know it is not only what Chandler would want, but it is the right thing to do.  

  • Holly Burns 
    • $15 
    • 36 mos
  • Aileen Cochrane 
    • $50 
    • 41 mos
  • Melody David Levine 
    • $200 
    • 41 mos
  • Lynda Snedeker  
    • $500 
    • 41 mos
  • Amber Ritchey  
    • $50 
    • 41 mos
See all

Fundraising team: Family and friends (3)

Chan Rae Harris 
LaVerkin, UT
Candace Harris 
Pat Harris 
Team member
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