Oregon resident Joe Bell was struck and killed by a semi-truck as he was walking across the U.S. to honor his gay son who took his own life earlier this year.
The driver of the semi-tractor-trailer that killed Bell is a Texas man who was given a citation for careless driving resulting in death. The driver was not injured.
Bell, who is from La Grande, Oregon, was reportedly walking on the shoulder of the U.S. Highway 40, which is just outside of the Colorado town of Hugo. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The Pacific Northwest resident committed to the two-year journey as a way to honor the memory of his dead 15-year-old son, Jadin Bell, and to bring attention to the wide-spread problem of bullying. Because Jadin was gay and often bullied, it is thought that the teen took his own life because of the abuse.
According to Joe’s Facebook page, Joe’s Walk for Change, Jadin had endured relentless bullying at school and via social media over his sexuality.
ABC News recently reported on the father’s heartfelt journey:
Jadin was taken off of life support and died on February 3 of this year after attempting to hang himself at an elementary school playground in La Grande.
His father Joe told reporters, “He was hurting so bad. Just the bullying at school. Yeah, there were other issues, but ultimately it was all due to the bullying, for not being accepted for being gay.”
Joe was scheduled to speak to a youth group at The Methodist Church of Hugo the day he was killed.
After the news of Joe’s trek cut short was reported, there has been a tremendous amount of sadness across social media.
The Hugo Sheriff’s Office posted a statement on Facebook regarding the tragic loss, which read, “We send prayers to his family and friends,” adding that although Joe had only been in the county for just one day, he left an important impression “with everyone who has ever talked with him.”
According to U.S. News, “Bell had only made it about a quarter of the way on his journey, which was to have taken him next through Kansas and south through Oklahoma, Texas, then east to Georgia, before heading up the Atlantic coast to Delaware.”
A memorial in Hugo is scheduled for 1 p.m. (EST), this Saturday, October 12, 2013, at Rocky Mountain Lake Park in Denver.