LIBERTY HILL, Texas (KXAN) — A mother and her two sons injured in a deadly crash on U.S. 183 and Saratoga Springs Road are still recovering in the hospital as their family copes with the loss of two other siblings.
“Koby and Kirsten they were just always happy. Always in a good mood, always having fun,” said Toby Draper, the kids’ uncle. He reflected on his niece and nephew while at the memorial friends and family made near the crash site. “They loved everybody in our family. We all loved them, they were just taken way too soon.”
Kirsten, 10, and her brother Koby,15, died at the scene after a truck slammed into them, according to police. The driver of the family Nissan, Crystal Draper, along with her two other sons, Kris,13, and Kody,16, were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Toby Draper said the youngest son is still in the Intensive Care Unit with brain swelling, bone fractures and is on a breathing machine. He also said Crystal and Kody are still in the ICU.
Authorities have charged John Alvarado, 45, with two counts of intoxication manslaughter and driving without a valid license.
“We’re all extremely angry,” said Toby Draper. “These kids got a death sentence, for nothing. Our family got a life sentence that we got to deal with just because he wanted to have fun and drink and drive.”
Court records show hours after the crash, Alvarado’s eyes were blood shot and his speech was slurred. They say he was too drunk to maneuver around the family’s Nissan and caused the crash. Investigators said his girlfriend told them Alvarado was drinking alone, which conflicts with what his aunt told KXAN News on Thursday.
“You cant drive while you’re drunk, you can’t drive while you’re distracted, you’ve got to pay attention.” said Toby Draper. “I mean these kids lost their lives, the whole family is broken, everything has happened just because someone was irresponsible.”
Draper said he also believes the stretch of U.S. 183 is to blame, where the speed limit is 70 mph and there is no turning lane. Authorities said Crystal Draper was trying to make a left turn into the neighborhood when Alvarado slammed into the back of their car.
“If they were sitting in a turning lane trying to turn while this drunk guy was in the fast lane or slow lane, then they probably wouldn’t have made contact,” said Draper.
Now his family is trying to cope with not only the loss of their two children, but the recovery of the other family members and the bills that will wait for them when they get out the hospital.
“We’ve got to figure out how to get [Crystal] transportation, we got to figure out household bills,” said Toby Draper. “Medical bills are going to be absolutely crazy high.”
Toby Draper has set up a GoFundMe account to help with all the bills since he said the mother and father will not be working for some time.
“Hopefully when the family starts coming around that will be a little bit less of what they’ll have to deal with,” he added. “I just ask that everybody prays for us, if you’re in the position that you can donate. I want to say thank you to everybody that’s helped, everybody that’s prayed for us, thank you.”
Students and friends intend to say goodbye in their own way Saturday at Liberty Hill High School. Kayla Davis, a best friend of Koby Draper, got classmates together to buy hundreds of balloons that will be inflated and then released in tribute.
“It’s to let go of the hurt and always remember he is in a better place,” said Davis. “He loved to goof around, he loved to joke. When I heard I honestly started crying, I didn’t know what else to do.”
The balloons will be released into the sky at 10:30 a.m.
Along U.S. 183, the Texas Department of Transportation said crews plan to add a center left turn lane, right-turn lane, traffic signal and shoulders at U.S. 183 and RM 1869, north of Liberty Hill. Officials said they will also add a center turn lane and shoulders at U.S. 183 and County Road 258, just north of SH 29.
There are two other GoFundMe pages (http://www.gofundme.com/sq69n4m and http://www.gofundme.com/sra8wf7) set up by friends to raise money for the Drapers.