A young Irish immigrant in New York to play football with the Co. Armagh team was killed in a hit-and-run accident in the early hours of the morning on Father’s Day.
Kevin Bell, 26, was knocked down around 3.30am on Sunday morning on East 233rd street in the Bronx, an area heavily populated by Irish immigrants. The driver drove away from the scene and police have launched an investigation.
It is believed that Bell, who has left behind a devastated family in Ireland and heartbroken friends in New York, was out socializing with friends on Saturday night.
A person living in the area who asked not to be named told the New York Post that Bell, who hails from Newry, Co. Down, was due to play a football match on Sunday.
“It got cancelled,” said the neighbor. “He was friends with a lot of students. He was a small, red-headed fellow. It's an awful [phone] call for those parents on Father's Day.”
According to the Post local resident Rick McManamy, 56, woke up to flashing lights after the accident happened in front of his home. The man claims he saw a women stop her car, get out in an effort to help Bell who was apparently fell on the road but before she got to him a car ploughed right into him causing him severe head trauma and ultimately killing him.
"She saw him get down on the ground, and said, 'Wow, I should help that guy out of the street.' By the time she pulled over and got down the hill, he'd already been hit,” said McManamy, who spoke to the good Samaritan. "She saw blood coming out his head.
"She felt terrible. She said, 'If only I pulled over immediately, I could've saved him," McManamy said.
McManamy said he didn't hear brakes and wondered if the driver knew he hit someone.
“It's dark over there,” he said. “It's possible that the [driver] didn't see him. But imagine the [victim's] parents. They probably live in Ireland, all the way in another country, and they get this news? It's terrible.”
The Irish community in New York is devastated with the loss of such a young life. A girl who knew Bell but asked to have her name withheld because she is undocumented said that “He (Kevin) was full of life. He loved being in New York and although found the NY heat unbearable at times really enjoyed his time here and playing football.” Bell was a champion Irish dancer back home in Co. Down
This particular friend went on to say she is “devastated and can’t even being to register how such a beautiful person has died so suddenly and tragically.”
A lot of Bell’s other friends refused to comment to IrishCentral Community News because they were simply heartbroken and in shock.
Dominic Bradley MLA told the BBC: "Kevin's parents, brothers, sisters, family circle and friends are devastated and heartbroken at the news of his death in a hit and run incident in New York.
"Kevin was an exceptional young man who brought joy and happiness to his family and to all who knew him. He had a great sense of fun and it was a pleasure to be in his company as anyone who knew him will testify," he said.
"He was well known as a superb Irish dancer who along with family members represented the St. Moninna GFC, Kileavy, for many years in the Scór competitions.
"Obviously his family are in shock at the sad news which has reached them today from America but in their bereavement they are finding great comfort in the response and support of their family, friends and of the local community.
"I have no doubt that in the days which lie ahead the people of Newry will continue to rally around them and help them bear the great sadness of Kevin's passing.
"I would like to express my sincere condolences to Kevin's parents, brothers, sisters, family circle and friends and I know that in doing so I speak for the community as a whole."