A 27-year old mother and three of her young sons were struck and killed by an Audi late last night while attempting to cross Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia's Feltonville section, according to police.
A 5-year-old remains hospitalized and in stable condition. He suffered scrapes, bumps and bruises but is expected to survive.
No charges had been filed against the driver of the car as of this morning. Police said drug and alcohol tests are pending, but that the driver did not appear to be impaired.
However, police are investigating information from witnesses at the scene that the 22-year-old driver may have been racing another motorist at the time of the crash.
The mother killed in the crash was identified by as Samara Banks, of C Street and Wyoming Avenue, according to her aunt, Rose Williams, who was at the scene of the accident about midnight.
"She was a beautiful person and she loved her kids," Williams said of Banks. "That's why they were all with her."
According to police, the tragedy unfolded about 10:30 p.m. at 2nd Street on the Boulevard, an area of the city that straddles the Feltonville and Olney neighborhoods.
Banks had just visited another aunt, according to Williams, and was attempting to usher the children back home across the busy roadway at a location that does not have a crosswalk or light.
They were crossing the Boulevard from Olney into Feltonville and were about 6 feet from the sidewalk when a southbound 2012 Audi driven by a 22-year-old man plowed into them and the mother was thrown about 200 feet by the impact.
Police said a 23-month-old boy, who relatives said was named Saa'sean, was pronounced dead at the scene, and a 9-month-old boy, named Saa'mir, died at Albert Einstein Medical Center at 11:16 p.m. The 4-year-old boy, who was in critical condition at Einstein early today, was pronounced dead at 4:45 a.m. Relatives said his name was Saa'deem.
The driver remained at the scene, police said. The car sustained heavy front-end damage. The police Accident Investigation Division was investigating.
Flip-flops, jewelry and a twisted stroller were scattered at the scene.
The deaths of so many in one family left relatives shaken. Friends and family gathered at Banks' home this morning, remembering the mother and her sons.
Those gathered said Banks, a native Philadelphian who worked at a daycare center, took her children everywhere, always making them hold hands.
"That's why all of them got hit," said Nicole Holmes, a cousin.
Banks spent her life caring for children, her family said. She raised 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 took her boys to all kinds of activities, including at the library and zoo, and spent much time reading or watching television with them.
"We just found flash cards," Holmes said.
Banks' best friend, Tyeisha Marshall, said the young woman "would pick up and go in a minute," to take the children somewhere. Marshall and Banks both worked at Yum Yum's daycare; Banks' first job in childcare was at church daycare.
Relatives said Banks as skilled at keeping her children well-behaved and entertained. When the children got her upset, she would start singing, dancing or clapping.
"She would start a game," sister-in-law Sharifa Williams said.
Even as a young girl herself, Banks enjoyed caregiving. Holmes recalled that Banks always "got extra real clothes" for her toy dolls.