Shocked family, friends remember victims in triple fatal acciden - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Shocked family, friends remember victims in triple fatal accident

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An SUV was traveling down Forest Hills Drive at a very high speed with no lights on and swerved off the road  into a tree during the accident. An SUV was traveling down Forest Hills Drive at a very high speed with no lights on and swerved off the road into a tree during the accident.
Damage to the passenger side of the car. Damage to the passenger side of the car.
Family and friends gathered to remember Raphael Samuel Tuesday night. (Source: Ben Powell) Family and friends gathered to remember Raphael Samuel Tuesday night. (Source: Ben Powell)

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Three people are dead and another passenger is injured following an accident Monday night in Wilmington.

"Life is too short," said Cornelius Nixon, a friend of one of the driver.  "You see one person here and then they're gone the next day. Life is too short."

According to officers with the Wilmington Police Department, it happened near the intersection of Colonial Drive and Forest Hills Drive around 10:30 p.m.

An SUV was traveling at least 80 mph down Forest Hills Drive with no lights on and swerved off the road  into a tree during the accident.

Two female passengers, Yashica White, 21, and Shatia Hankins, 25, died on impact. The driver of the SUV, Raphael Samuel, 22, was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center.  He was pronounced dead early Tuesday morning.

Demond Jones, 30, was riding in the backseat.  He was injured but is expected to survive.  He was listed in good condition Tuesday evening.

"It's crazy to me, because like I said, we had just seen them yesterday up here getting our paychecks and then to come into work today they are gone - it's just crazy," said Vernnell Bennerman, a co-worker to the female victims.

Friends say White and Hankins worked at the McDonalds in Leland for almost five years.  They picked up their paychecks Monday and talked about going to Outback for dinner.

"This is my extended family. They were like sisters to me and they were so full of life," said Bennerman.  "The store isn't going to be the same."

Bennerman said White and Hankins were always together and acted like sisters.

"Blood couldn't have made them any closer," explained Bennerman.

Friends said the women were known for their hard work on the job and found it hard to speak about the fatal accident.

A large group of family and friends gathered at the Samuel household to support Raphael's grieving mother Tuesday night, showing pictures of him and talking about his life.

He was taking classes at Cape Fear Community College and studying to get his GED.

Dee Dee Samuel says her son liked to tell jokes and rarely got angry with anyone.

His grandmother, Virginia Samuel, says they are heartbroken and confused over reports that Ralph's SUV crashed while he was reportedly speeding.

"We ask the question, what was he doing driving eighty miles per hour? That's just not him," said Virginia.  "So I hope everything comes out later on and we can understand why my baby died."

Samuel's grandmother hopes no other families lose loved ones the same way.

"I would advise all young people to slow down and live," she said.

Still reeling from the shock of their loss, the Samuel family is now planning their final goodbye to Ralph.

It's unknown at this time if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the accident. It is still under investigation.  According to police, no one riding in the vehicle was wearing a seatbelt.

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