An Oregon father whose gay son committed suicide this year was struck and killed Wednesday night while on a walk across America.
Joe Bell, of La Grande, planned to walk across the country to educate people about bullying, which is what led his son to hang himself.
Colorado State Patrol said Bell was struck by a semi on Highway 40 about 20 miles outside the town of Kit Carson, CO. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The semi driver, 49-year-old Kenneth Raven, was cited with careless driving resulting in death.
State police said Raven may have fallen asleep behind the wheel before crashing into Bell.
A post on the "Joe's Walk for Change" Facebook page announced Bell's death Thursday morning.
"I am very sad to have to announce that our friend Joe Bell was hit and struck by a semi while on his walk last night. 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. I will update with info as it becomes available. He will continue his journey now with Jadin. Please keep his family in your prayers and thoughts. Ann"
Bell chronicled much of his trip on the Facebook page, posting messages of thanks to strangers he met along the way. He was heading toward Kansas, and posted last week that he would be in Wichita by November.
Along the way, he spoke to people about the lasting effects of bullying. Last winter, 15-year-old Jadin Bell hanged himself after being bullied at La Grande High School. On Jan. 19, a passer-by found him hanging from a play structure at Central Elementary School and rescued him. He remained in critical condition for two weeks before being taken off life support at Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland.
A memorial is planned for Joe Bell at Ogden Outreach in Utah on Thursday night.
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