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Southeastern PA

Mother, 3 young sons killed crossing street in Philadelphia; another child injured

Police investigating whether cars were drag racing before crash

PHILADELPHIA - Police have identified the mother killed along with three young sons while crossing a Philadelphia highway that's notorious for pedestrian deaths.

Samara Selena Banks and her boys were killed by a speeding driver who may have been drag racing late Tuesday night, police said.

Banks, 28, and her 23-month-old son, Saa-sean Williams, died at the scene, while her 4-year-old and 9-month-old sons, Saa-deem Griffin and Saa-mir Williams, died later at hospitals.

"There are no words to describe losing your daughter and three of your grandchildren. I'm very distraught right now," Samara's stepfather, Walter Homes, told WPVI-TV.

Banks' 5-year-old surviving child, Saa-yon Griffin, is in stable condition with bumps and bruises, police said.

The 22-year-old driver of the 2012 Audi was taken in for questioning. Authorities are investigating whether cars were drag racing, said Chief Inspector Scott Small.

"At this time we are not sure. We are getting some information that there may have been drag racing. That is something that [the] accident investigations [division] is going to determine," Small said.

No arrests have been made, but police said charges are pending.

Roosevelt Boulevard divides several neighborhoods in north and northeast Philadelphia. The pedestrian deaths have prompted city officials to call for more crosswalks and speed patrols.

"It's very difficult. There's no overpass or anything like that for pedestrians to be abel to cross. It's difficult and people just drive too fast oftentimes," said Commissioner Charles Ramsey, Philadelphia Police Dept.

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