A summer trip to Mexico took a tragic turn for one Reading family over the weekend.
Two young children, Karen Hurtado-Espinoza, 8, and Alex Manuel Hurtado, 10, were killed when their car crashed on Interstate 40 east of Little Rock, Ark., just before 1:30 a.m. Sunday, according to a state police report.
The driver, Sandra Espinoza-Perez, 32, and two other passengers, Marlene Espinoza, 2, and Melohoa Hurtado, 35, were injured in the crash.
The family is devastated, and now the Reading School District is doing what it can for the children's classmates.
Karin had just finished 3rd grade at 12th and Marion Elementary School; Alex just completed 4th grade, according to a school district spokeswoman. Family members said they were heading to Michoacan, Mexico, for vacation.
"The Reading School District and 12th and Marion School family extend its deepest condolences to the Hurtado-Espinoza family," the district said in a statement Monday. "This tragedy is especially heart-wrenching as Karen would have celebrated her 9th birthday on Tuesday. Both Karen and Alex will be fondly remembered at 12th and Marion."
The children's uncle, Ramiro Espinoza, said they were asleep while their mother was driving. Both children were born in Reading, and they have made the long trip by car to Mexico before, Espinoza said.
"It is a long trip," said Maria Mora, who lives on Mulberry Street where Sandra Espinoza owns a home she plans to sell. "There's usually people who drive. There's usually people that fly. It's just very sad when it has to do with children. Breaks your heart. It's very sad."
Friends on Mulberry Street said they can't believe Alex and Karen are gone.
"They played tag," said Keanna Greely. "Karen used to play with Barbies. Alex used to play with video games. Boys are used to that, playing with video games."
Espinoza said the family was living with him while the Mulberry Street house is for sale. He said his sister and his 2-year-old niece are okay but that his brother-in-law is still in the hospital. He said he's thankful to anyone who wants to help out his family.
The school district has activated its crisis teams to help students, staff and parents cope with the tragedy. Anyone needing grief counseling is welcome to call the school district.
69 News has learned that family members appealing to the Mexican consulate to have the bodies of Alex and Karen shipped to Mexico so they may be buried alongside their ancestors.