Joe Bell, who is walking across the country in memory of his bullied gay son who committed suicide earlier this year, was killed by a semi truck in eastern Colorado Wednesday. Bell’s family confirmed to Joe’s Walk for Change Vice President Ann Clark that it was Joe Bell who was killed.
Colorado State Patrol says Bell was walking eastbound on the shoulder of Highway 40, 20 miles northwest of Kit Carson, when he was hit by the semi at about 5:10 p.m.
Bell was pronounced dead at the scene. The semi driver, 49-year-old Kenneth Raven of Bryan, Texas trucking company Farold Inc., was uninjured. Troopers say Raven may have fallen asleep at the wheel and was cited with careless driving resulting in death.
The 48-year-old Le Grande, Oregon man set off on foot for “Joe’s Walk for Change” across the United States after losing his son, Jadin, to suicide.
Jadin Bell was a 15-year-old sophomore when he hung himself. He survived for 15 days but died Feb. 3, 2013, approximately five days after being removed from life support. Jadin Bell was a gay teen who came out when he was a freshman, but a year of bullying proved too much, Bell, said.
“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 web site site reads.
Bell left his home town in eastern Oregon in April, on a cross-country trip that would have ended in New York City, where his son had hoped to go to school.
“If I can help stop just one child from killing themselves or change one bully into someone who opposes bullying, that’d be great,” Bell told the Ontario Argus Observer during his first stop. “For myself, I want to find peace for what happened to my son. Peace is what I need.”
He reached Ogden on July 9 and met with about 30 people from Ogden OUTReach Resource Center at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden. There, he and the others shared a potluck dinner and stories of bullying.
Bell made it to Salt Lake City and spoke at the Public Library on June 15. He spoke in Boulder and Denver, Colo. in late August and left Denver on Sept. 30 and was heading towards Wichitaw, Kansas when he was killed. The last GPS marker on his web site shows him on Hwy. 40 at 5:32 p.m.