Friends of Kevin Bell, the young Irishman killed by a hit and run driver in The Bronx, have raised over $65,000 for his family in a single night in his home town of Newry, County Down.

The Newry Times reports that £42,000 ($65,540) has been raised so far at a benefit night in Newry.

Bell was killed after falling on a busy highway early Sunday morning and was hit by a passing car. Later the Medical Examiner’s office was strongly criticized for picking up the body in a van that also contained what appeared to be trash. The story made the front page of the New York Post.

In addition, the Aisling Irish Center in New York and Aer Lingus have contributed to efforts to have his body flown home for burial.

Kevin Bell, 26, was  originally from Kileavy, Co Down. He leaves behind his parents, Collie and Eithne, a twin brother Brendan, three other brothers and two sisters.

A talented Irish dancer, Bell moved to New York  less than a year ago and was working in construction. He was also a talented GAA player and played with the Armagh team here in New York.

In an emotional statement Kevin’s father Collie Bell has praised the extraordinary local effort to help the family of the bereaved man.

“We the Bell family are humbled by the kindness and generosity of people.We are so grateful to all those who are organizing events and who have come to support us in this terrible time.

“We would like it to be known that we intend to continue to fundraise in Kevin’s name and that all surplus money will be used to help families visited by similar tragedies; we know that Kevin will not be the last.”

Fundraiser organizer Grace O’Reilly described the event in Newry as “overwhelming” and a testament to the extraordinary popularity of the young man.

“The outpuring of support has been overwhelming.No one could have predicted the crowd for tonight’s quiz..This is a true testament to the many lives he touched in his short time on earth.”

“He would have been in his element sitting amongst them. He would have loved it.”