KIT CARSON, Colo. - An Oregon man who lost his gay son to suicide and was walking across the country to raise awareness about bullying was struck and killed by a big rig in Colorado.
The Colorado State Patrol said 48-year-old Joseph Bell of La Grande, Ore. died Wednesday after being struck along a two-lane highway in a rural area 20 miles northwest of the town of Kit Carson. Investigators believe the driver fell asleep.
Bell's 15-year-old son, Jadin, died in February after hanging himself in a schoolyard. He had reported being bullied at school and on social media but he didn't leave a suicide note.
"Joseph Bell is walking across America to educate anyone who will listen about the lasting effects of bullying,” said Joe's Walk for Change Facebook page.
Bell began his walk in April and planned to finish in New York City. He was in Arvada, Colo. on Sept. 4 and spoke to 7NEWS about his mission.
"My goal is to speak to schools and churches and anywhere that would have me so I can educate about acceptance of others. It's OK to be different," Bell said.
He was walking along the shoulder of a rural highway in Cheyenne County at about 5:10 p.m. Wednesday when he was hit. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The truck driver, 49-year-old Kenneth Raven, of Bryan, Texas, has been charged with careless driving resulting in death, a misdemeanor.
The company Raven was driving for disputes the CSP account.
"He says he did not fall asleep," Greg Cupit, owner of Farold Inc., told ABC News.
On Bell's Facebook page, hundreds of people have posted messages of support.
"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," read one Facebook post. "He will continue his journey now with Jadin. Please keep his family in your prayers and thoughts."
Bell leaves behind his wife, Lola.
In his last Facebook post before he was killed, Bell posted a highway sign showing he was 20 miles away from Kit Carson. The caption of the photo said, "Making headway, one step at a time."