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Police identify crash victims, say none had seat belts on

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Several families are mourning tonight after a car crash killed three people last night in Wilmington. It happened at 10:22 p.m. in the Forest Hills neighborhood. Investigators say a SUV with four people slammed into a tree.

The driver, Raphael Samuel, 22, of Wilmington, and and two passengers, Shatia Hankins, 25 of Wilmington, and Yashica White, 22, of Leland, died. A fourth passenger, 30-year-old Demond Jones, of Wilmington, survived.

Alongside debris from the crash, Tuesday friends dropped off flowers.

“Life is too short,” said Cornelius Nixon, a friend of Samuel. “That’s all I can say, man. You see a person here, and then they’re gone the next day… Life is too short man.”

Several residents is Forest Hills say the impact was so bad that it felt like the suv had actually hit their home.

Wilmington police say Hankins and White died at the scene. Jones and Samuel were taken to the hospital, where Samuel died.

“Like I said, he’s a good friend. That’s all I can say about him. He was a good friend,” Nixon said.

The cause of the crash is still being looked into. Police say a WPD officer spotted the vehicle driving without lights just moments before the crash. That officer then turned around to follow the SUV, keeping his lights and siren off. Detectives say the vehicle took off, and moments later the officer found the SUV smashed against this tree.

Police says none of the people in the SUV had their seat belt on at the time of the crash.

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