Martin Nelis: US city pays moving tribute to Derry road accident victim

Road accident victim Martin Nelis's ashes are to be returned to Derry for burial.
Seamus McKinney

A US city has come together to pay tribute to Derry man Martin Nelis who died in a road accident in Pleasant Hill, California.

The 54 year-old son of former Sinn Féin assembly member Mary Nelis, died when he was struck by a truck while cycling last Thursday.

On Sunday night, the audience at Pleasant Hill’s annual “Summer by the Lake” concert joined in a poignant tribute to Mr Nelis who had worked as Public Information Officer for the city authority for the past 11 years.

The entire audience joined in the singing of the Tom Petty classic Free Fallin' in his honour when the band called on them to “sing it for Martin.”

The outdoor gig, was later dubbed “Marty’s Party” by his friends on social media.

It is understood the father-of-three’s family intend to have his ashes returned to Derry for burial.

Mr Nelis, who had been working as a Public Information Officer for the City of Pleasant Hill in California, is a brother brother of well known Irish language activist Donncha Mac Niallais and a brother-in-law of Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Declan Kearney.

Friends have set up a “Go Fund Me” page with a target of $25,000 (£19,317) to help Mr Nelis’s family cover the funeral costs and to help financially support his children through college.

They also have to travel to and from Ireland with his ashes. While funeral arrangements have not yet been finalised in Derry, a memorial service is to be held in Pleasant Hill on Thursday.

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