Bullying | Gay Youth | News

Man Walking Cross Country To Remember Bullied Son Is Killed

Since this past April, Joe Bell had been walking across the country to educate young people about the effects of bullying. His own openly gay son had been a victim bullying and hanged himself earlier this year. Tragically, just a few days ago, Bell was killed while on his nation-wide walk.

The Denver Post reports:


Joe Bell, 48, of La Grande, Ore., was walking on the eastbound shoulder of U.S. 40 in Cheyenne County, about 20 miles northwest of Kit Carson, when he was hit by a semi truck, said Trooper Josh Bell, a Colorado State Patrol spokesman.

Bell died at the scene about 5:10 p.m. Wednesday.

The driver of the truck, Kenneth Raven, 49, of Bryan, Texas, has been cited for careless driving resulting in death. He was not injured.

According to NBC News, Bell had planned to speak to a group of youths that evening.

Sheriff's deputies were scheduled to pick Bell up later in the evening to take him to The Methodist Church of Hugo, where he was supposed to speak to the youth group. We send prayers to his family and friends," the sheriff's office said Thursday in a statement on Facebook, adding that even though Bell had been in the county for just one day, he left an important impression "with everyone who has ever talked with him."

Bell began his walk in Oregon and planned to finish in New York City in 2015.

The Facebook page set up to track Bell's journey has now transformed into a memorial page. A post on the account asks for donations that would help cover the cost of his funeral.

A memorial service will take place at the Utah Pride Center in Salt Lake City at 6PM MST tonight.

In April, Bell shared his objective for the walk with KATU: "My goal is to get my son's word out there, his name, his experiences that he went through, just get our story out there. And for any young people that are having any trouble, we want to be able to share with them to hang in there. It will get better."

Watch that clip, AFTER THE JUMP.

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  1. A bit behind with this story since this has been all over the internet since it happened mid-week.

    Regardless, the man was an incredible father and a man of courage, conviction and compassion. This is tragic.

    I pray his surviving family and friends are comforted by all in this trying time.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Oct 13, 2013 2:23:06 PM

  2. So much senseless death. First the son for killing himself and then the father getting killed because he was walking on the side of a highway. Tragic story all around.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Oct 13, 2013 2:28:30 PM

  3. Next time go after the bullys.

    Posted by: JJ | Oct 13, 2013 2:30:26 PM

  4. "cited for careless driving"

    A driver's license is a license to kill.

    Posted by: Kev C | Oct 13, 2013 2:32:07 PM

  5. What a sad story....that such tragedy should visit what must be decent people.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Oct 13, 2013 2:40:22 PM

  6. Beautiful, but so sad.

    Posted by: Matt27 | Oct 13, 2013 2:59:36 PM

  7. What a little reckless driving can do. The driver should be stripped of his license and serve several years in prison for being 'reckless' and killing an innocent person.

    This is a heartbreaking story. This guy really loved his gay son and to honor him he took off on a trek across country. An honorable undertaking but in today's world with all the drive by's, the crazies firing off guns, the NOM nut cases determined to destroy anyone supporting gay anything we all have to think twice about traveling across this country. You'd think the driver would be plagued with years of guilt over carelessly killing another person but the reality is, probably not. Our hearts go out to his man's family and friends. If there is any solace, and if you believe in a Heaven some where, then this father will re-unite with his son. I can only hope and dream that is true.

    Posted by: Mike Ryan | Oct 13, 2013 3:07:06 PM

  8. grief can make people do some intense things...sad to see it ended this way ... that's actually a pretty sketchy part of colorado too bad... although walking on the side of a highway is not something I would feel comfortable doing

    Posted by: steve | Oct 13, 2013 3:12:30 PM

  9. I'd like to put Brian Brownstreak and Phyllis Shoefly on the side of the road.

    Posted by: CVP | Oct 13, 2013 3:24:42 PM

  10. Very tragic. Thank you for your long and hard fight for your son and for victims everywhere. You will be remembered as a hero.

    Posted by: Reality | Oct 13, 2013 3:29:54 PM

  11. Absolutely heartbreaking.

    Posted by: whitneyisadude | Oct 13, 2013 4:16:30 PM

  12. oh my god that is so sad

    Posted by: danswon | Oct 13, 2013 4:34:15 PM

  13. He was walking in the eastbound lane which means he was walking with traffic which you never do. Unless it's to avoid death angerous blind curve. Always walk against traffic, so at least you have a chance to jump out of the way, with as much space as possible, flashing light and always anticipate every car as potential death

    Posted by: Jaker | Oct 13, 2013 5:22:36 PM

  14. We should never forger Joe Bell.

    Please join me in donating to the cause. There is also a link on the FB page that says where you can donate to his funeral directly to the funeral home.

    If you didn't know, Joe quit his job, took out his 501k and was going to be walking for TWO years.

    He spent at least one night sleeping under a bridge, as it snowed.

    He had double knee replacement surgery, and back surgery in 2010.

    He leaves behind his wife and THREE children.

    He touched THOUSANDS of people on his journey, and no doubt would have moved tens of thousands more...

    I can't even articulate how I feel about losing him, or how important he was to so many people he met, and people that never met him, or to the people he would have met.

    Do a search for the videos he made, he was determined and a kind man devoted to the cause. He was determined no one else loose a child to bullying...

    Posted by: Jake | Oct 13, 2013 6:59:30 PM

  15. Poor man was in hardcore mourning over his son's suicide. Very, very sad story.

    And what Kev C said: you got it right. It's amazing the destruction you can get away with, with barely a slap on the wrist, when driving a 2000lb + internal combustion engine vehicle.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Oct 13, 2013 8:16:17 PM

  16. It's really frustrating that the most awesome gay site ever has a retarded commenting system with no thumbs up kind of function. Or ability to directly reply to a comment.

    Posted by: emjayay | Oct 14, 2013 1:23:08 AM

  17. how incredibly sad and tragic - may he and his son rest in peace

    Posted by: ACe | Oct 14, 2013 2:07:32 AM

  18. I have a feeling that this is going to haunt me for a long, long time.

    Why is it that so many exceptional people leave us so abruptly and under such awful circumstances ?

    I've cried off and on for four days now.

    Posted by: OMG Really | Oct 14, 2013 3:41:19 AM

  19. I hope the bullies who started this are satisfied with what their evil hands have done. I know that sounds weird but the blood is truly on the hands of those that started this tradgedy. May they come to know themselves.

    Posted by: Bill Michael | Oct 14, 2013 3:48:28 AM

  20. Dear Towleroad Readers,

    As a personal friend of Joe Bell, I thank Towleroad & its readers for their outpour of sympathy. Especially Jake, for his intention to donate & urgong others to consider doing so also. Joe's 2 older children are in their 20's but he has a son who only recently turned 14 & who had been very close to Jadin. Having lost Jadin, who would have been 16 on 6/4/13, & now his father 8 months & 6 days later, is very difficult to say the least. There was considerable expense involved in Jadin's medical & funeral expenses as almost no parent should ever have to bury a child. Joe's body needed to be transported over a thousand miles home.Sympathy cards/donations (checks payable to Loveland Funeral Chapel) may be sent to: Loveland Funeral Chapel,1508 4th St., La Grande OR 97850-2504

    Posted by: myk rozzak | Oct 14, 2013 8:07:18 AM

  21. There are days when the horror and the tragedy is just beyond words. Blessings that he and his son are now reunited.

    Posted by: Dback | Oct 14, 2013 10:23:59 AM

  22. This is a terribly sad story...but isn't it illegal to walk on the side of a U.S. highway, for the very reason that a person can easily be struck by a vehicle?

    Posted by: Gavin | Oct 15, 2013 11:04:04 AM

  23. Walking along the highway is dangerous in the USA. Roadways are made for vehicles, not people. This is such a sad story. I wish he would have walked the Appalachian Trail or another one of America's great hiking trails. He could have raised money that way and raised awareness. So sad.

    Posted by: Steeeevo | May 1, 2015 3:27:52 PM

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