Hundreds attend girl's memorial

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE - Under a blue sky in a blue church, hundreds of people - many of them children - honored the memory of Krystal Steadman.

The 9-year-old girl's death last week shocked South Shore.

"It is amazing that so many people in tragedy can come together like this," said resident Jennifer Welker.

Welker, who lives with Steadman's sister, was one of several people who spoke at a celebration of Krystal's life Tuesday at Sierra Community Church. She spoke fondly of the child and read a letter that her 8-year-old niece Khloe wrote to Steadman after her death.

"I wonder if God made your soul into an angel," Welker read. "Are you an angel? Check yes or no."

Steadman's sister Sonya Klempner thanked the community for their support and her grandfather Leslie Bucknell, who traveled from Florida, talked about Krystal's tremendous energy.

"I know her school chums, teachers and family all thought of her as a little human dynamo," Bucknell said. "I know she gave me a run for my money."

Several people broke into tears as Krystal's friends and family lit candles for her, but many of those who spoke brought laughter to the service with their stories about the precocious fourth-grader.

Klempner said she had been trying to teach her sister the cha-cha before she was killed and Bucknell recalled a time when he took the little girl to Disney World.

"She went on almost every ride," he said. "The scarier the better."

One of the girl's teachers at Meyers Elementary School, Susan Earnest, read a handful of letters and a poem another student wrote for Krystal. "I loved her most of all because she so easily and so openly loved others," she said.

The service opened with a video showing several pictures of Krystal as she grew up. There were images of her learning to ride a bike, sledding and dressed as a pumpkin for Halloween.

"There was no one as sassy as Krystal," Welker said.

Close to 100 mourners moved from the somber service on Sierra Boulevard to a more joyful reception at Meyer's Elementary School, Krystal's school.

Dozens of people gave Krystal's mother, Betty, cards and offered their condolences, while nearby children quietly played in the gym where the reception was held.

"This is a very close-knit community and there is a need for people to come together in times of sadness and strife," said Rich Alexander, superintendent of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District. "This was a wonderful opportunity to do that and to support one another."


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