Irving police have charged a mother with two counts of intoxication manslaughter after police say she was behind the wheel in a crash that killed two of her children and injured two other children and herself.
Police told NBC 5 that Crystal Suniga was driving at a high rate of speed Saturday night when she crashed into two parked cars in the 1500 block of E. Pioneer Drive in Irving. Officers said Suniga could have been driving as much as three times the speed limit.
“They are only estimates at the moment; it could be anywhere from 60-70 miles per hour, up to 90-100 miles per hour, but the investigation is still in the early stages,” Irving Police Officer James McLellan said on Sunday.
Family members confirmed to NBC 5 that Suniga's 10-year-old son Ricardo Hernandez and 14-year-old son Angel Reyes died in the crash.
Officers said her 16-year-old son suffered from a crushed pelvis. A fourth child in the car, a girl, had minor injuries. Police said the mother was transported to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas with minor injuries.
At the scene of the crash, neighbors said they could not believe the scene they witnessed. Noe Osuna was among the neighbors who tried to help moments after the crash.
“We heard a little girl screaming for help, and we ran with my brothers to try to get people out,” said Osuna. He and other neighbors helped Suniga and two of the four children get out.
“We didn’t know until the little girl said that there were still two kids in the car, that’s when we tried to break the window, open the other windows. That’s when we saw the bodies,” he said.
Police believe the children were wearing seatbelts.
“In this case, that didn’t seem to restrain them enough to keep them from being partially ejected and killed,” said Officer McLellan.
Officers found Suniga's blood alcohol level was at 0.18 -- twice the legal limit. She was set to be transferred to jail late on Sunday. As of Monday morning, she had still not been released.
Irving police said she is charged with two counts of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of injury to a child as well.
According to the arrest warrant, she told police, "I deserve to be punished." The warrant stated, "She also admitted to being 'buzzed' before leaving her mother's house."
The search warrant even stated two of her children yelled for her to slow down.
Counselors Support Schools of Slain Students
On Monday, Irving ISD had grief counselors on hand for students at the schools that Hernandez and Reyes attended.
Fourth grade teachers at Gilbert Elementary are telling their students today that they can leave anytime to go talk to grief counselors in private. It’s expected to be an emotional day for the classmates of 10-year-old Ricardo Hernandez, who died over the weekend.
“We’re just going to be here and take care of our kids, help them try and make it as normal a day as possible,” said Irving ISD spokeswoman Lesley Weaver.
“Our counselors are here to talk to our kids, to talk to our kids about anything they need to get off their chest, they can talk to them one on one or they can talk to them in a group setting,” she said.
Weaver also said a letter will go home with the fourth grade students to remind their parents to pay attention to their children’s feelings and to be there to support them at night.
Parents of children who knew Hernandez said it’s been a difficult and emotional weekend.
“It will be very tough, but I think she’ll be ok,” said Elizabeth Howard. Her daughter was in the same fourth grade class with Hernandez.
“[Hernandez] was well known, he was friendly. She liked him, she played with him. They had the same rotation of classes. She said he was a very nice little boy,” Howard said.
“She knows she can talk to the counselors. She’s very close with her teachers. So she knows there’s people to talk to.”
Howard lives across the street from Gilbert Elementary -- and just a few houses down from the scene of the wreck. Her husband and children saw the aftermath of the deadly crash and said it was a traumatic scene.
“I was sad. It’s hard. It’s not something you want to have to tell your child. And she knows the circumstances. She’s seen the news and she saw the aftermath,” Howard said.
Grief counselors are expected to be at Gilbert for the next few days.
“When you have situations like this sometimes it brings up a variety of emotions for students, maybe they’ve lost a loved one recently at home, or even a pet. So we need to relate to the kids on their level,” Weaver said.
Hernandez’s brother, 14-year-old Angel Reyes, also died in the wreck. Reyes was a student at Austin Middle School in Irving. Grief counselors will also help students there if they become emotional in class.
Crash Site Memorial
On Monday night, flowers and candles were placed at the crash site by dozens of friends and relatives.
“She loves her kids, she’s worked hard and I don't know what happened, this is a tragedy,” said family friend Rebecca Santa Ana. “These boys were at my house, playing at my house with my son like any other child, and then a couple days later he’s gone?!”
The children’s Sunday school teacher also attended.
“We gave them gifts and everything, for Christmas we brought Christmas for all 4 of the kids,” remembered Renee Brigham.
Bringham said she’ll hold on to those moments, as the last time she saw the children.
“They’re just there in my heart, they’re my little angels and they were my angels because I told them I was always going to take care of them,” Brigham said.
NBC 5's Dulce Hernandez, Ray Villeda, and Jeff Smith contributed to this story.