VAN ZANDT COUNTY - The family of an East Texas woman is pleading for answers one week after she was shot and killed while driving down a highway.
According to the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office, Sherry Banks, 62, of Edom died after crashing her car in a wooded area on FM 279, near the Van Zandt-Smith County line
Investigators say the crash occurred between 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 11 and 10 a.m. on May 12 after someone outside the vehicle shot Banks through the window.
A driver saw Banks' vehicle crashed in the woods and called 911 Friday, alerting authorities.
The victim's son, Richard Banks, said it appears the shooting happened as his mom drove home to Edom after picking up medicine at Wal-Mart on Highway 64 in Tyler.
"The scenario is so implausible and so crazy," he said. "It's either the craziest accident that ever happened or someone killed my mom for no apparent reason. I'm just hoping they'll come forward and fess up to what they did."
Detectives have not identified a suspect or possible motive and are seeking the public's help, according to Sgt. Jacob Smith with the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office.
Richard described his mom as a sweet person who powered through tough times. They moved to East Texas from California seven years ago.
"She was tough sometimes, and we butted heads so many times," he said. "If you look back, my mom was a really great mom and she did the best she could, and I'm forever thankful for that."
Ms. Banks worked as a caretaker for elderly individuals. Her son said she also loved animals and spending time outdoors.
Just as his mom loved adventure, so does Richard, who hiked the Pacific Crest Trail in 2014. On May 4, he began a hike up the Appalachian Trail -- which runs 2190 miles from Georgia to Maine.
"My mom was so happy and proud that I was doing that and experiencing life, and she wished she could go more than anything," he said.
130 miles into his journey last Friday, Sherry's only son received news of her passing and flew to Texas as soon as possible.
"I'm hoping that I can get her cremated and maybe take a piece of her with me and finish my journey with her, Richard said, adding that cremation was among Sherry's wishes. "I think that'd be really important and she would really love that."
Meanwhile, he and other loved ones are left wondering about the person and the motive behind her death.
"[It's] just a ruthless, unanswerable death that makes no sense whatsoever," said Richard. "I wish that on no one. No one deserves that."
He asks anyone who thinks they might know something about the case to come forward.
"If it was an accident for whatever reason, you need to be brought to justice," Richard said. "You need to at least accept what you did. If it was an accident, I'm a very forgiving person and things happen, but I need to know and my family needs to know who killed my mom and why. If it wasn't an accident I ask 'why' because she was the sweetest lady in the world."
People with information about the death of Sherry Banks are asked to call the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Office at 903-567-4133 ext. 495 or Crime Stoppers at 903-567-7867
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