Family raises £100k for repatriation

Published Tuesday, 17 December 2013
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The family of a late GAA player who died in an accident in America have raised over £100k to help other families who find themselves in the same tragic situation.

Kevin Bell, from Newry, died in June in a hit-and-run accident in New York.

The 26-year-old dancing champion and talented Gaelic player was one of seven children, including a twin brother.

"Kevin had been out, it was a Saturday night and he returned home at about half three in the morning, he got out of a taxi and a white van came speeding and struck him, drove on and then he was hit by a second car but apparently he had been killed instantly," his father Colin explained.

"We were fortunate or God was good in that we didn't get a cold call from America. Kevin had been out to a friends', Sheamie Toner, and Sheamie rang his parents and then Vincent and Caroline came up and broke the news to us."

Eithne added: "They came to the door, and I just said 'What's happened to my Kevin?' - I said 'is it bad' and he said 'Eithne, it's the very worst'.

"It was like a sledgehammer."

Kevin had been living in the American city for almost a year before the tragic incident.

Describing him, Kevin's mum told UTV: "If you met Kevin once, you remembered him, he just really had that personality, people loved him, he was full of craic.

"He would put himself up for a joke as well as putting everybody else up for one."

Colin said he had many friends at home in Newry and had a busy social life in New York as well.

In dealing with the loss of Kevin, his family and the community have come together to create a lasting legacy in his memory.

The Kevin Bell Repatriation Trust now helps other families bring their loved ones' bodies home - already they have raised £120,000.

It can cost families £5,000 to bring someone's body home from another country.

"Any time that I've heard that somebody else has been plunged into the same situation that we're in, I just think 'oh God, you are just starting on your journey'," Eithne said.

"We're six months down the line, please God we'll learn how to cope with it, and it's a comfort to think that we can help."

Colin said they have offered help to as many as 10 local families who have lost a relative overseas.

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He added: "We said at the time, Kevin wasn't going to be the last, so the fund is there to help. We just want to help people."
© UTV News
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8 Comments
Terry Hattam in Belfast wrote (25 days ago):
What an amazing family you are to help others who find themselves in same situation that you found yourself in with your son . God bless you all . You do a wonderful thing in helping others.
Lisa in Belfast wrote (118 days ago):
So touched by the actions of this wonderful family.
Peter McAleavey in Newry wrote (119 days ago):
A very respected Newry family bringing a lot of good to other families who find themselves in a similar situation.
Portadown in Portadown wrote (119 days ago):
What a truely wonderful thing to do. God bless you for thinking of a way to help others when you are going through your own pain. I hope this brings you much comfort, as well as those you help. Again, God Bless x
jackie in belfast wrote (119 days ago):
Total respect for this couple, even in their grief they are thinking about others.God bless both of you.
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