Community heartbroken after death of 15-year-old Carolyn Hopkins

Carolyn Hopkins

“She loved helping people, and had such a bright, beautiful smile,” making the tragedy this past week all the more painful for family, friends, and our small community, finding it so hard to understand and say goodbye to young Carolyn Hopkins, whose kind and generous heart left this earth far too soon.
Hopkins had been airlifted from Devine High School to University Hospital in critical condition three days earlier, this past Thursday, January 18 after a fellow student found the young lady in crisis and unconscious, and so many prayed endlessly for her safe return.
The heart of this community was broken upon the news that the 15-year-old Devine High School student tragically passed away this Sunday, January 21 at 3:37 pm, for now we’ll never know the heights and accomplishments to which her creativity, intellect, and kind generous heart might have led her one day.
Devine High School students were put on lockdown for several hours as law enforcement and officials took statements following the tragedy. “No incidents of bullying or anything of that nature were reported to us,” said Lieutenant Chris Andrews, Devine Police Department.
“The school did a great job offering counseling to students in announcements during the day, and they brought in counselors from other Devine schools as well as Region 20 crisis counselors to be available to anyone who needed to talk,” Lieutenant Andrews added. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and students of Devine ISD.”
Devine ISD Superintendent Scott K. Sostarich issued a statement at 10:57 am that morning to DISD parents via phone or email that explained the high school was on lockdown, and an update later at 2:28 pm came from Supt. Sostarich which stated that “A Devine High School student in a state of crisis decided to harm themselves. District counselors, as well as local area counselors, will be available for our students. I want to thank our emergency first responders, as well as local and county law enforcement for keeping our students safe, which is our top priority.”
Carolyn’s parents, Frank Hopkins & Louisa Hopkins, publicly thanked Devine ISD, first responders, hospital staff, and the community of Devine, who all provided so much comfort, love, and support during this time of crisis.
“Our dear sweet Carolyn has passed. She bravely fought depression for many years. So often, people would see a smiling young lady who was putting on a brave front because she did not want to burden anyone. Our little girl won countless battles with this insidious disease. Sadly, on Thursday, she lost one battle and gave into the despair that she had so often triumphed over,” said Carolyn’s father Frank Hopkins.
“The first responders restored her heart and breathing and she was flown to University Hospital. We can’t begin to express our deepest gratitude to the students and staff at Devine ISD and first responders. Thank you so much for your efforts to save our little girl and all the kindness that has come our way since.”
Carolyn had a kind, helping heart and the family takes comfort in knowing that her compassion will live on in others through organ donation. “Carolyn loved helping others,” Hopkins said. “She would grow her hair long and donate it so that cancer patients could have hair. She volunteered at the local food pantry. Recently she had begun volunteering at a sanctuary for abused animals. Our daughter enriched our lives and brought us more happiness than we could ever recount.”
Carolyn often spoke of how important organ donation is after seeing her uncle pass away while awaiting an organ transplant.
“Given her expressed wishes, we decided to donate her organs so that other families may avoid the heartache that we experienced this week. We knew that Carolyn would want to help as many people as possible.”
Carolyn’s father adds, “Although our little girl is no longer with us, her legacy will live on in all the lives that will benefit from her final gifts.”
Monday morning as the sun came up at 7:45 a.m., it was a somber moment at Devine High School as the majority of the student body and staff members and some parents formed prayer circles around the flag pole in front of the school. Kids had messaged each other and came out in huge numbers to share prayers, hugs, tears and stories that made them both laugh and cry in memory of their friend and fellow DHS classmate. They shared stories of her intellect, kind, quiet, sweet, and helpful nature.
One young man said, “Carolyn didn’t speak up often, but when she did she was always right and made us all smile and laugh. She knew her stuff.”
Another student said, “Without Carolyn stopping us from the wrong direction on our project and showing us the way, I am pretty sure we all would have gotten a zero and flunked that project and semester! She saved us all!”
Another Classmate told of a memory from church camp where Carolyn had to rescue her from a tree. “Several of us had decided to climb these really tall trees and I just couldn’t make myself jump down. Carolyn showed me how, by jumping herself. But I just couldn’t so she climbed back up and helped me find my way all the way back down. One example of how we knew we could always count on her for a smile or a laugh or helping hand. We sure will miss her.”
Carolyn was very close with her 11 year old little brother David and loved spending time with him. She loved to dance and grew up dancing with Hermann Sons.
Carolyn was a junior at Devine High School, having skipped second grade. She excelled both in academics and band. Her picture is on the wall in the multipurpose room with all the kids who had earned high achievements on tests. One in particular stated, “Carolyn Hopkins, AP Excellence 3 Plus Club, World Geography. Carolyn played the trombone for DHS and was part of the Mighty Warhorse Marching Band who earned straight 1s at UIL Marching Contest this year and a member of the Symphonic Band.
“Carolyn was very artistic,” her father Frank Hopkins said. She enjoyed designing and making Halloween/renaissance costumes for friends. She liked to design and make dresses. She wanted a career in the fashion industry. She really enjoyed making clay sculptures, wood carvings, baskets, and other artistic items and giving them to people. She was the kindest person I’ve ever known. She enjoyed doing things for others.”
“We are so thankful for the outpouring of support we have experienced,” added Louisa Hopkins, Carolyn’s mother. “We will never get over this tragedy, but we will get through it, with God’s help.”
In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be sent to Wings & Reins Horse Rescue, 114 County Road 7866, Devine, Tx. 78016.
Funeral arrangements are pending with Hurley Funeral Home and the First Baptist Church of Devine.
By Kayleen Holder and KK Calame