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Police identify crash victims, say none had seat belts on

READ MORE: 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 say none of the people in the SUV had their seat belt on at the time of the crash.

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Enforcement works in CB

The cops in Carolina Beach and Wrghtsville Beach can be a hassle but if you drive the speed limit and don't try to beat the traffic lights they largely leave you alone. You don't see traffic regularly going 15 mph or more over the speed limit in those towns like we do here in Wilmington. I would like to see WPD and NHCSO both take a more aggressive approach on enforcing speed limits on Wilmington streets and arterials.

Lost Lives

I am sorry that three young people lost their lives. It is a tragedy.

One of those young people could have been the researcher that discovered the cure for cancer. Another could have been the person who would become Mayor, in a town desperately in need of leadership.

The other might have chosen to be a mother and raise the future president of the country. Or, maybe just a decent human being.

Either way, it is tragic to loose these young people. We must remember, though, that actions produce consequences.