School community grieving loss of Draper children
While an Austin man remains in the Williamson County Jail charged today with two counts of intoxication manslaughter in the deaths of two Liberty Hill siblings, school officials say they are working with students and staff to help them with the grief.
John Canche Alvarado of Austin was charged on two counts of intoxication manslaughter and driving with an invalid license in the wreck that left two children dead. Ten-year-old Kristin Draper and 15-year-old Koby Draper were killed in the crash. Their 37-year-old mother Crystal Draper was in critical condition at Seton Medical Center Williamson as of Friday, DPS Trooper Robbie Barrera confirmed.
Her two sons, Kristopher, 13, and Cody, 16, who were also passengers in the vehicle survived the crash. On Friday, Kristopher remained in critical condition at Dell Children’s Medical Center.
Kirstin and Koby were killed Wednesday night when the car they were riding in was rear-ended about 8:40 p.m. by a pickup truck driven by Alvarado. Barrera said Crystal Draper was attempting to turn left off US Highway 183 into the Saratoga Springs subdivision when Alvarado slammed his Ford F-150 pickup into the Nissan Altima she was driving.
Barrera said Kirsten was pronounced dead at the scene and was reportedly wearing a seatbelt. Brother Koby was also pronounced dead at the scene of the crash and it is unknown whether he was wearing a seatbelt.
“It is unknown whether the other two sons were wearing their seatbelts. [The incident] is still under investigation. [Thursday] at 7 a.m. they were said to be in critical but stable condition,” Barrera said Friday.
Meanwhile, the Liberty Hill community is trying to pick up the pieces.
“We’re trying to be cautious,” said Terrie Chambers, principal at Bill Burden Elementary School, where Kirstin was in fourth grade. “We’re trying to meet the needs of individuals. We’re making sure there is plenty of support here.”
She said parents of fourth graders who were in the same classes as Kirstin came to school Thursday to be with the students. Staff members and parents went from class to class to inform the students.
Liberty Hill High School Principal Bobby Mabry said the campus and district are offering resources to its students, faculty and staff in light of the community’s loss.
“Our counseling department is dealing with the grief right now. There are also outside sources we can call in if it gets too overwhelming,” he said. “We have a plan in place for students and staff. It’s a tragic issue and a cloud over our heads and we feel for our families. We’re taking it a day at a time.”
Counselors are offering extended office hours to anyone who may need their services.
“Their doors have been open anytime anyone needs to come in. Teachers know if they see someone distraught or upset they can send them down to speak with someone,” Mabry added.
Chambers said teachers and staff across all Liberty Hill campuses are grieving the loss. In the family of four children, many teachers and school employees know the family well, and many taught both Kirstin and Koby.
“They’re ours,” she said, trying to hold back tears. “I know God puts us in places where He needs us. I hope that when I ask for the right words and touch that He will convey that through me. The mother side of me is so broken.
Chambers said Burden teachers and staff are having a difficult time. It isn’t the first time teachers have had to deal with the loss of their students.
“But it is the first time it happened to us when we just hugged her (Kirstin) yesterday,” she said.
“You touch them (students) every day, they love and trust you, and losing them is …,” she said.
Chambers described Kirstin as a “beautiful and quiet. She was just coming into her own, and overcoming some insecurities — but that’s just fourth grade.”
A GoFundMe.com account has been established by friends of the Draper family to assist with expenses.
Barrera said Alvarado was booked into the Williamson County Jail on his 45th birthday immediately after being released from Brackenridge Hospital. Bond was set Friday at $2 million.
Intoxication manslaughter is a second degree felony that carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
According to DPS records, Alvarado was sentenced to 10 days in jail in 1994 after pleading no contest to assaulting a family member. In 2008, he spent 20 days in jail after pleading no contest to drunk driving charges in Cedar Park. In 2009, he was arrested in Round Rock on drunk driving charges and convicted — served six months in jail and placed on probation for one year.
In 2011, Alvarado was convicted for driving with a suspended license after being stopped by Austin police.
As recent as March 2014, he was charged with misdemeanor assault causing bodily injury. He was jailed for two days.