Family members say 27-year-old Samara Banks was so invested in the education of her four young boys that she was always reading to them, talking to them and having them go through flash cards. Banks also took the boys with her everywhere she went—which ultimately led to the grisly death of Banks and three of her sons when they were struck and killed by a speeding motorist on Philadelphia’s infamously dangerous Roosevelt Boulevard.
As Banks crossed the boulevard with her sons, almost immediately after they stepped off the grassy median – the stretch has no crosswalk – they were struck by an oncoming silver Audi sedan traveling at a high rate of speed. The vehicle was possibly participating in a drag race with a 1994 Honda, according to witnesses.
The mother was thrown about 200 feet by the impact and pronounced dead at the scene, as was her 23-month-old son, Saa-Sean. Her 9-month-old boy, Saa-mir, was pronounced dead at Albert Einstein Medical Center at 11:16 p.m., while her 4-year-old boy Saa-deem was pronounced dead at 4:45 a.m.
A 5-year-old remains hospitalized and in stable condition after suffering scrapes, bumps and bruises. He is expected to survive.
A mangled stroller, a smashed up windshield, a fallen street sign, flip-flops and jewelry were some of the debris left in the wake of the wreck.
The 22-year-old driver, who did not flee the scene, was taken by police for routine blood tests. Though no charges have been filed at this time, Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small says authorities are investigating whether the cars were street racing at the time of the crash.
Rose Williams, Banks’ aunt who was at the scene of the accident about midnight, said, “She was a beautiful person and she loved her kids. That’s why they were all with her.”
Banks had just visited another aunt and was on her way back home at about 10:30 p.m. when the accident occurred in an area of the city that straddles the Feltonville and Olney neighborhoods. They were attempting to cross the busy roadway at a location that does not have a crosswalk or traffic light.
As friends and family gathered at Banks’ home this morning, they fondly remembered the involved, loving mother and her sons. They said Banks, who worked at a daycare center, took her children everywhere and always made them hold hands.
“That’s why all of them got hit,” said Nicole Holmes, a cousin.
Banks has always loved children, caring for her sister and three brothers after the siblings’ mother died seven years ago.
“This was the house where everyone could come,” if they had any problems, Holmes said outside Banks’ residence near Wyoming and C streets.
Banks brought her boys to all kinds of activities, such as the library and the zoo, and she frequently read to them and watched television with them.
“We just found flash cards,” Holmes said.
“She would pick up and go in a minute,” to take the children somewhere, said her best friend, Tyeisha Marshall.
Relatives said Banks was skilled at keeping her children well-behaved and entertained.
She would start singing, dancing or clapping or start a game whenever her children were upset, said her sister-in-law Sharifa Williams.