YouTube star Caleb Logan Bratayley’s death has been “emotional” for everyone at Maker Studios, CEO Ynon Kreiz said Monday at The Grill, TheWrap’s sixth annual media leadership conference.
“The reason it was very emotional for our team is the family joined Maker four years ago. Literally at the ground level,” Kreiz told TheWrap’s CEO and editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman. “We saw the potential and worked with them for four years. And we grew them to become one of the most successful channels on YouTube.”
Caleb died Thursday after police responded to the family’s home in Arnold, Maryland, for a “medical emergency,” an Anne Arundel County police spokesperson previously told TheWrap. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
“Yesterday at 7:08 P.M. Caleb Logan Bratayley passed away of natural causes,” Caleb’s mother, Annie Bratayley, wrote in an Instagram post on Friday. “This has come as a shock to all of us. Words cannot describe how much we will miss him.”
It’s still unclear what could naturally lead to a boy’s death at such a young age, and Kreiz doesn’t have all the information yet, either.
“It was actually a very tough day — a tough week,” Kreiz said. “He died of natural causes — clearly young. We’re determining the cause, but there was no unnatural or specific reason. The family may decide not to disclose.”
Caleb’s mother began posting daily vlogs about her three children, including Caleb and his younger sisters Annie and Haley, to YouTube in 2010. The channel has over 1.6 million subscribers. Caleb’s own channel, FlimsyArrow, featured videos about the video game Minecraft and has over 113,000 subscribers.
The unexpected tragedy leaves the family’s future making digital content in limbo, but Kreiz has a hunch the Bratayleys will carry on.
“I assume so, but we’re not at that stage,” Kreiz said. “It’s all very fresh and sensitive.
“We’re being very respectful of the family. Any tragic event involving a 13-year-old boy is tough to grapple with,” he added. “First and foremost what matters to us is the well-being of the family.”
A day before Caleb died, the family posted a video featuring the boy speaking to his future self. A message now appears at the end of the video mourning his death.
“Unfortunately, Caleb passed away the day after we made this video. He will never get to meet his future self. None of us will and we are very sad, because he would have been great,” the message reads. “Please kiss your kids and tell them you love them every day. You never know what day will be their last.”
Watch the video below.