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An Oregon man who set out on a cross-country walk to raise awareness about the effects of bullying was hit and killed by a truck.
The man, 48-year-old Joseph Bell of Le Grande, Ore., lost his son, Jadin, earlier this year when the 15-year-old committed suicide. The teen had reportedly been bullied for being gay and he hung himself in a schoolyard without leaving a suicide note behind, the Associated Press reports.
“After this terrible loss Joe figured he had two choices, lay down and give up or stand up and walk,” Joseph’s website says. “Follow Joe on his journey across the United States as he changes the way people communicate, ends the stigma of suicide and fights for equal rights for everyone.”
Bell’s 5,000 mile walk from his home in La Grande to New York City was tragically cut short on Wednesday when he was struck and killed by a semi along a highway 20 miles from Kit Carson, Colorado, just 1,000 miles into his journey. According to the AP, the driver of the truck fell asleep at the wheel.
The driver, 49-year-old Kenneth Raven, has been charged with careless driving.
Bell had been walking since April, when he reportedly quit his job to take his cross-country journey for recognition and equal rights, notes OregonLive.com.
"I don't want Jadin's death to be in vain," Bell said at his son’s memorial service. "I want it to stand for something. I think we need to look at people for who they are and not who we think they should be."