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Exclusive: Crash victim's family speaks

August 10, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
The family of a woman killed in a hit-and-run crash spoke exclusively to Eyewitness news about the loving mother and grandmother they lost. Investigators say 64-year-old Rosetta Banks didn't have a chance after she was struck during a deadly street race.

The crash happened at the corner of South Normandie Avenue and West 106th Street just before 8 p.m. Sunday. Witnesses say an SUV and another car were racing.

"Just blew me away that people would just be that careless and not care," said Kimberly Williams, Rosetta's daughter. "Just take someone's life because they're playing around on the street ... street car racing."

Williams says her mother was on her way home after spending time with her older brother at a convalescent home in Lynwood, which Rosetta did every Sunday. Williams says the 64-year-old always took surface streets because she didn't like to drive on the freeway.

Investigators say a Chevy Tahoe was headed northbound at a high rate of speed on Normandie when the driver lost control and smashed into a 1996 Saturn, killing Rosetta Banks. The Saturn was heading southbound on Normandie at the time of impact.

Witnesses ran to the scene to help the driver out of the Tahoe after the SUV burst into flames.

"I seen everybody try to help him to try to get out the truck cuz everybody from these houses right here, from down the street, everybody was running out to him, making sure everybody was alright," said David Howard.

"I heard a loud, like, boom, boom and I went to the window and I saw the truck just spinning out and it was on fire," said witness Roneisha Poole. "We ran out and then random people just tried to get the man out of the car, they got him out and the bottom of his pants were on fire. And then they put the fire out and then took him across the street."

Officers say a man walked into the CHP's Culver City office at around 10:45 a.m. saying he was involved in the crash. He was identified as 40-year-old Willie Ray Shavers Jr. Police say Shavers was the driver of the Chevy Tahoe involved in the accident. The car was registered in Shavers's name, so police were already looking for him.

The night of the accident residents say they put out a fire on Shavers's clothes, and then he walked away from the scene.

Shavers was taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries he sustained during the accident. He will be going to jail following treatment.

Shavers will be charged with felony hit-and-run and vehicular manslaughter.

"That was manslaughter. That was murder. He took her life because he wants to play around on the street," said Williams. "I want him held accountable. He will definitely be held accountable."

Officers are still searching for one other driver.

Anyone with information is asked to call the CHP at (800) TELL-CHP, or (800) 835-5247. You may also call the CHP at (323) 982-4900.

Rosetta Banks's family intends to hold a vigil Tuesday at the scene of the crash to ask for the public's help and to remember a woman who cared so much for others.

Eyewitness News Reporters Sid Garcia and Gene Gleeson and Leanne Suter contributed to this report.

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