(DENVER) — An Oregon man walking across America to bring attention to the issue of bullying after his gay son committed suicide was struck and killed by a big rig on Wednesday in Colorado.
Joseph Bell, 48, started his walk from Oregon to New York in April. His 15-year-old son, Jadin Bell, killed himself earlier this year after relentless bullying at school and social media over his sexuality, according to the Joe’s Walk for Change Facebook page.
“Joseph Bell is walking across America to educate anyone who will listen about the lasting effects of bullying,” the site said.
Bell began his walk in April, just months after his son died.
“He was hurting so bad,” Joseph Bell told ABC affiliate KATU. “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.”
Wednesday’s incident happened along a rural stretch of U.S. 40, about 20 miles northwest of the town of Kit Carson, the Colorado State Patrol said. Bell was walking along the shoulder of the road at about 5:10 p.m. when he was hit. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the big rig was identified as Kenneth Raven, 49, of Bryan, Texas. Colorado State Patrol Trooper Josh Lewis tells ABC News that investigators believe Raven fell asleep while he was driving for a company called Farold Inc. Raven was not injured in the crash, Lewis said, but was cited with careless driving resulting in death.
Reached by phone Thursday, the owner of the trucking company expressed sympathy over Bell’s death, but says Raven disputes the police account.
“He says he did not fall asleep,” said Greg Cupit, owner of Farold Inc.
Cupit said he could not comment further about the incident, saying he needed to learn more about what happened.
Bell leaves behind his wife, Lola.
A photo of a road sign posted on the page before Bell was killed indicated he was about 20 miles outside Kit Carson.
“Making headway, one step at a time,” the caption read.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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