'Very surreal': Family, friends remember Raleigh man on what would have been his 40th birthday

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- This is never the way they imagined celebrating their brother and their friend.

"We know he's celebrating up in heaven in whatever Caribbean island or mountains they have up there ... he's hanging, having a great time," said Holly Haygood, Andy Banks' longtime friend.

On Sunday, Andy would have turned 40 years old. Tragically, his life was cut short in September.

"The day-to-day is very surreal for me," said Mark Banks, Andy's brother.

Four-and-a-half months ago, Mark's older brother Andy went to meet someone in Cameron Village, intending to sell a Range Rover. Justin Fernando Merritt allegedly stole the car and killed Andy - dumping his body in Virginia.

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Justin Merritt was charged with stealing an SUV believed to belong to William 'Andy' Banks, Jr.

"The last few months have been difficult. You expect Andy to be there and he's not and that is a huge absence in the room," Haygood said.

But through the loss, his family and friends are creating good. They've raised almost $20,000 for the Andy Banks Memorial Scholarship, which benefits NC state athletes. And for Andy's 40th birthday, they're hoping the community will donate $40 in his memory.

"It was just a no-brainer for us," Haygood said. "You think of Andy and Mark and our family and it's just NC State - all things, everything NC State Wolfpack."

If you'd like to donate $40 or any amount for Andy's birthday, you can Venmo @Emily-Ballard-2 until Sunday or you can call the Wolfpack Club at (919) 865-1500 to donate on the phone. Also, until February 1, you can order a shirt here and all the proceeds go to the fund.
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