15-year-old dies in freak accident while helping his father change tire

Francis Akhalbey August 30, 2023
William Jason Lamont Bell Jr. died after he was struck by a truck wheel -- Photos via GoFundMe and Indiana State Police

In what was described as a freak accident, a 15-year-old tragically lost his life after a semi-trailer truck’s rim and tire struck him as he was helping his father change a tire on an interstate in Northwest Indiana.

In an interview with WBBM-TV, William Jason Lamont Bell Jr.’s father, William Jason Lamont Bell Sr., said his deceased son “wore his heart in his face.” “He’s always Baby Boy, Junior,” William Sr. added. “He was always a face of contentment, and a face just of gladness.”

The family was embarking on a road trip to Kentucky on August 15 when one of their car tires blew on the I-80. William Jr. is said to have stepped out of the vehicle to help his father replace the tire. “Without having to ask him, ‘I want to help.’ He wanted to help,” William Sr. said.

Indiana State Police in a press release said that as the occupants of the vehicle were working on changing the flat tire, a wheel from a semi-trailer that was driving by “disengaged” due to “mechanical issues.”

“The tire was still attached to the rim when it struck the south barrier and continued to travel east along the barrier wall,” the release added. “The wheel then struck a 15-year-old male that was assisting with the tire change.”

In the wake of the incident, Williams Sr. recalled he did not get a full understanding of what had just happened. “I did not. It happened all too fast,” he told WBBM-TV.

Police said the teen suffered potentially life-threatening injuries and was taken to a local hospital before being transferred to another hospital in Chicago. Police also said the driver of the truck was taken to the hospital for toxicology tests – though they do not believe drugs/alcohol were a factor in the crash. The results of the test were pending at the time of the press release. Police also said the truck was impounded for a post-crash inspection to be completed at the tow lot.

William Jr., however, succumbed to his injuries after being placed on life support for days. “Losing my son was tragic,” William Sr. said. “He is in a much, much better place that we’re trying to get to,” William Sr. said.

Though the family is grieving their loss, Williams Sr. said that they have comfort with the knowledge that their son’s heart continues to beat as that organ was donated. “If he were still alive, if he was able to give of himself, he would still be giving of himself, and what better way to give than to give parts of you?” said William Sr.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: August 30, 2023


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