Service to be held for father killed while walking across America in memory of dead gay son

Joseph McCormick October 16, 2013
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A service is to be held on Thursday for Joe Bell, who tragically died whilst walking across America to raise awareness of bullying after his gay son committed suicide.

Joe Bell was struck by a truck in eastern Colorado as he walked along the shoulder of a highway last Wednesday evening.

The driver has been charged with reckless driving.

Mr Bell was midway through his 5,000-mile challenge to walk across America in memory of his son Jadin Bell.

The 48-year-old, who has another son and a daughter, came up with the idea for the two-year walk in a bid to raise awareness of homophobic bullying after struggling to come to terms with Jadin’s death.

The 15-year-old took his own life in January, having been bullied by classmates at his school in Oregon.

He was kept on life support for a few days, before Mr Bell and Jadin’s mother Lola Lathrop agreed to end treatment after doctors registered little brain activity.

Mr Bell had been due to talk to a youth group in Hugo, Colorado, on the night he was killed. A few hours before his death, he had posted a picture of a road sign on Facebook with the caption: “Making headway, one step at a time.”

A friend of Mr Bell put up an announcement about his death on a Facebook page chronicling the walk.

It said: “Thank you to everyone who has come here to support Joe’s family in this difficult time.”

The memorial service will be held at 2pm on Thursday at Gilbert Event Center on the Eastern Oregon University campus in La Grande, said Bud Hill, a family friend. Several friends and acquaintances will share memories of Bell,

The service will be open to the public. Hill expects a lot of people to attend. “I’m expecting people from Portland, from the Tri-Cities in Washington and Salt Lake City,” he said.

More: bully, bullying, life support, Oregon, US

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