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Joe Bell, the La Grande man who embarked on a walk across America this spring to honor his son, Jadin Bell, a 15-year-old who killed himself after being bullied at school, apparently was hit and killed by a semi-truck on a Colorado highway Wednesday evening.
Joe Bell of La Grande, a father on a cross-country trek to make sure that the compelling memory of his son was not forgotten, died tragically Wednesday in Colorado.
Bell was killed when he was hit by by a semi-truck late Wednesday afternoon, 20 miles northwest of Kit Carson, Colo., on Highway 40. He died at the scene, according to a report on the ABC News website.
Bell, 48, was walking along the shoulder of the road at about 5:10 p.m. when he was hit.
The driver of the truck was identified as Kenneth Raven, 49, of Bryan, Texas, according to the ABC News report. Colorado State Patrol Trooper Josh Lewis told 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.
Bell’s death was announced on his Facebook page — Joe’s Walk for Change.
“Thank you so much for all of your continued support, he loved everyone he came into contact with, and was so appreciative of all of your support,” said a post on the Facebook page. “He will continue his journey now with Jadin. Please keep his family in your prayers and thoughts.”
The page, which had over 4,000 likes Thursday, said Bell was “walking across America to educate anyone who will listen about the lasting effects of bullying.”
Bell was in the sixth month of a two-year 5,000-mile walk across the United States to promote an anti-bullying program in remembrance of his son Jadin Bell, a gay La Grande High School sophomore, who died Feb. 3 from injuries suffered from a suicide attempt on Jan. 19. Jadin’s family and friends believe he was driven to suicide by bullying.
Following Jadin’s passing, a foundation, Faces for Change, was established in Jadin’s memory, to promote anti-bullying programs.
Bell gave numerous talks in churches, schools and other places on behalf of his foundation during his walk. He talked of the evils of bullying and what can be done to prevent it.
Bell made countless new friends during his walk including Ann Clark of Salt Lake City.
“I knew him only two weeks but he was a good friend,” Clark said.
She said Bell had a down to earth nature which attracted people to him.
“He wasn’t pretentious. He was just like everyone else. That made him personable,” she said.
Clark had talked to Bell by cell phone only a half hour before he was killed. She said he was set to talk that night to a youth group. A pastor was set to soon pick him and drive him to where he was to talk.
“He was excited,” Clark said.
Bell had just spent close to a month in the Denver area giving presentations. His next destination was Wichita, Kan., which he was a five-week walk away from.
Bell had had some misfortune earlier in his walk near Salt Lake City, Utah, when someone stole the cart he was using to transport most of his gear. He recovered his gear but not his cart. People rallied to his support after learning of the theft. Those who helped him included a man who made a new cart for him.