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Disabled musician Frank Barham killed in car crash during 300 mile 'Wheel 2 Live' wheelchair journey for US charity

Published 25/05/2015

Frank Barham, 59, died just three days before the end of fundraising mission
Frank Barham, 59, died just three days before the end of fundraising mission

Disabled musician Frank Barham has been killed in a crash on the last stretch of a 300 mile wheelchair journey for charity in the US.

Barham, 59, was wheeling down a motorway in Georgia on Wednesday when a lorry rammed into the back of the van following him, shunting it into his wheelchair.

He and the van driver, his friend Margaret Kargbo, 36, were both killed and a passenger was taken to hospital, police told NBC News.

Mr Barham had been nearing the end of his “Wheel 2 Live” journey from Atlanta to Savannah, raising awareness around the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and fundraising to buy wheelchairs for people in need.

He had been using a wheelchair for 34 years since a car crash in 1980 left him with paraplegia in both legs, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. His father had also been left paralysed after being thrown in a swimming pool at a party.

Writing on a Wheel 2 Live fundraising page before setting off on his journey earlier this month, Mr Barham said the adjustment from walking to using a wheelchair was a difficult one but he felt “extremely fortunate”.

He said he wanted to inspire people of all abilities to “live life to the fullest” like he had learned to.

Mr Barham wrote: “There are still many attitudes that minimize people with disabilities.

“Too often, many of us with disabilities have allowed ourselves to be influenced by those attitudes to the point that we unconsciously minimize ourselves…I want to use the uplifting power of music and personal determination to figuratively burn these minimizing attitudes and inspire people to live and dream to their full potential.”

He wheeled an average of 30 miles a day, while stopping for music performances and to spread information and raise money.

Georgia on my mind! Thanks @carriebeth121 #wheel2live #Repost #latergram #day8 #brothers @frank_barham @margo79

A video posted by Wheel2Live (@wheel2live) on

By Monday, Wheel 2 Live had raised more than $12,300 (£8,000) to buy wheelchairs for people unable to afford them.

Mr Barham wrote that access to a good wheelchair could change people’s lives and give them the chance to “embrace all the possibilities that their lives offer”.

His Facebook page, which had been filled with pictures and videos of the journey until hours before its tragic end, has been inundated with messages from friends and well-wishers.

Mr Barham's journey had been due to end with a concert in Savannah on Saturday with his band, Brazilian Fusion. It was cancelled.

His wife of 19 years, Adriana, told Channel 2 Action News he was the love of her life.

“He was a very sweet and sensitive soul,” she added. “He told me we have to be positive; it doesn't matter what.”

Sgt. Steve Singleton of Screven County couldn't pass up the chance to shake Frank's hand!

Posted by Wheel 2 Live on Wednesday, 20 May 2015

#FrankBarham #Wheel2Live

A photo posted by Wheel2Live (@wheel2live) on

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