The father of a bullied Oregon teen, who was walking from his home in Oregon to New York City to honor his deceased son, died after being hit by a vehicle last week.
Joe Bell, 48, was struck by a tractor-trailer in Colorado after the driver fell asleep at the wheel.
Bell was the father of 15-year-old Jadin, who was openly gay and bullied at school. Jadin killed himself in January.
Bell decided to walk all the way to NYC because, he said, Jadin wanted to live there one day. He planned to be on the road for two years. Many people were following Joe’s progress on his Facebook page “Joe’s Walk for Change.”
As he traveled across the country, Bell would share Jadin’s story and the lasting effects of bullying with anyone who would listen. He spoke at schools, gay outreach centers and even motorcycle rallies. The day he died, Bell was supposed to give a speech at a church in Hugo, Col., an engagement set up by a sheriff there who also has a gay son.
“This man had to [have] made a huge difference in everyone he met,” the sheriff said. “He made me realize how important basic humanity still is.”
Bell was killed while walking on the shoulder of U.S. 40, east of Colorado Springs. The driver of the vehicle, Kenneth Raven, 49, was cited for careless driving, according to The Oregonian.
A memorial service is being held for Bell on Thursday in La Grande, Ore.