An Oregon man was crossing the country on foot to memorialize his deceased son when he was hit and killed by an oncoming semi.
Colorado State Patrol believes driver Kenneth Raven, 49, fell asleep at the wheel, causing him to veer into the shoulder and strike 48-year-old Joe Bell. Bell died at the scene.
Bell was walking from his home in La Grande, Oregon to New York in tribute of his 15-year-old son Jadin Bell, who committed suicide earlier this year. The teen had reportedly suffered through a year of bullying after announcing he was gay. Joe Bell hit the road after that, to "educate anyone who will listen about the lasting effects of bullying," according to the "Joe's Walk For Change" Facebook page. New York was chose as his destination because it was where Jadin hoped to attend school.
From his website: Joe set off on foot across the United States after losing his son, Jadin, to suicide. Jadin was bullied relentlessly for being gay, both in school and online. After this terrible loss Joe figured he had two choices, lay down and give up or stand up and walk. Follow Joe on his journey across the United States as he changes the way people communicate, ends the stigma of suicide and fights for equal rights for everyone.
His journey had taken him as far as Cheyenne County, 20 miles northwest of Kit Carson when he was killed. The accident happened just after 5 p.m. Wednesday on Highway 40.
Raven, who works for Bryan, Texas trucking company Farold, Inc., was cited with careless driving resulting in death. He was uninjured in the accident.
People who had met Bell on his journey, or had simply been following it took to the Walk for Change Facebook page to express their grief and condolences to the family.
His website released the following statement:
Friends and supporters,
We are sad to share that the recent news of Joe's passing is true. Joe was supported by a number of people, across a number of states. Please be patient with us as we come together, and allow the family time to process this difficult tragedy.
Joe had reportedly spoken in Boulder and Denver while in Colorado.