Cemetery, funeral home donate services for Roosevelt Boulevard victims

Posted: July 26, 2013

IT WILL TAKE a lifetime for Samara Banks' family to sort through the heartache and grief 'endured when an alleged drag-racing driver struck and killed the young mother and three of her kids July 16 on Roosevelt Boulevard.

Mercifully, the family won't have to worry about finding a way to cover the cost of laying their fallen relatives to rest.

The owners of Greenmount Cemetery in Feltonville and Chandler Funeral Home in Juniata Park have offered to donate their services to Banks' family.

"It's a terrible tragedy. I couldn't believe it when it happened, four people dying at one time," Joel Winston, owner of Greenmount Cemetery, said yesterday. "We spoke to the family and let them know we'd offer the grave and the [burial] services at no charge."

Walter Holmes, Banks' stepfather, said his family was touched by the offers from Winston and Chandler Funeral Home.

In the days following the tragic crash, some relatives had tried to raise money to pay the funeral costs.

"We're really appreciative that somebody was willing to extend a helping hand during this time of grief," Holmes said. "We've received a lot of support from people who don't even know our family."

Holmes said the viewing and funeral for Banks, 27, and her children - Saa'deem Griffin, 4, Saa'sean Williams, 23 months, and Saa'mir Williams, 9 months - will be held Saturday morning at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, on Lehigh Avenue near 20th Street.

Burial will follow at Greenmount Cemetery, on Front Street near Hunting Park Avenue.

Police have said the young family was struck as they tried to cross the Boulevard near 2nd shortly before 10:30 p.m. by a 2012 Audi driven by Khusen Akhmedov, who was allegedly racing a 1994 Honda driven by Ahmen Holloman.

Akhmedov, 22, and Holloman, 30, were each charged on July 18 with murder and related offenses, and are being held on $2.5 million bail.

Another one of Banks' children, Saa'yon Griffin, 5, was also struck that night, but he survived with bumps and bruises.

"He's been a little extra-quiet lately," Holmes said of Saa'yon. "He's doing the best he can. We're all trying to stay upbeat and talk about the good times."

On Twitter: @dgambacorta

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