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After Philly's Running of the Santas, a tragic death

Pennsylvania man, 24, dressed as Santa Claus for the annual run, is killed by alleged drunken driver on I-95.

PHOTO: FACEBOOK Adam Herr with a friend at the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.
PHOTO: FACEBOOK Adam Herr with a friend at the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon.Read more

THE LAST SUIT Adam Herr wore was an outward expression of the ideals he embodied - joy, generosity and love.

The last suit Adam Herr wore was a Santa Claus suit.

Herr, 24, of Lebanon, Pa., was in Philadelphia for the annual Running of the Santas on Saturday when somehow, about 10:25 p.m., he found himself in costume and on foot on Interstate 95 South near the I-676 interchange.

Motorist Augustine Bangura, 27, of Philadelphia, was also on I-95 at the same spot at the same time, State Police said. Apparently he did not see Herr or his red suit.

Bangura, driving with a suspended license, struck and killed Herr, according to police. Responding officers said Bangura failed field sobriety tests and his car smelled of marijuana. He was charged with driving under the influence of intoxicants and with homicide by motor vehicle.

But perhaps in the spirit of Christmas, or perhaps in the spirit of their beloved son, Herr's parents, Dennis and Jeany, have forgiven the driver who allegedly claimed their son's life.

"We're of a strong faith and we know anger is not going to bring Adam back," Dennis Herr said. "All we can do is pray for the person who hit him, that he finds comfort, peace, salvation and hope."

By the time Adam traveled to Philadelphia for the Running of the Santas, he was already in the holiday spirit, having wrapped and tucked Christmas presents neatly under the tree for his sisters.

Adam, who loved to run and previously participated in the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, was staying with a friend in the area whom he knew from Shippensburg University.

Adam bought a brand new Santa suit for the event, during which thousands of people dressed as Santa participate in a pub crawl and a three-block run.

Dennis Herr said his son was with friends at dinner after the run when they "turned around and he was gone." One of his buddies even filed a missing-person report on Adam, Dennis Herr said.

State Police did not release a reason why Adam Herr was on foot along I-95. His father said he doesn't know if his son got lost or how he ended up on the busy interstate.

"We have very little information about what went on," Dennis Herr said.

What the Herr family does know is how Adam lived. His grandmother Ruthanne Herr recalled him as someone who enjoyed life and never got into trouble.

"He was a very loving boy," she said. "Whenever he came in the house, we hugged each other and told each other we loved each other."

Dennis Herr described his son as "energetic" and "successful." After graduating from Shippensburg, Adam got a job with Metro Bank (formerly Commerce Bank/Harrisburg), quickly moving up to a head-teller position. He also became a certified notary public.

Adam loved to dress well, loved the Phillies and liked summers at his family's home in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where he'd always score the best tan.

His father helped buy him his first car, a '98 or a '99 Volkswagen Beetle, but these days Adam was cruising the road in a Kia Soul. His dream was to one day own a Mini Cooper, his dad said.

Adam had a girlfriend in his youth group at church, but after that fell through he didn't talk much about girls, his dad said.

"But he was always with girls," Dennis Herr said. "We're not saying he was a player, but the girls always flocked around him."

Adam Herr was pronounced dead at Hahnemann University Hospital shortly after the crash. His father said the family was greatly moved by the care and compassion shown by the hospital.