PALM COAST, Fla. -- The Dalai Lama's nephew was smiling, radiating energy as he tackled the first leg of a 300-mile walk to promote Tibet's independence from China. He insisted on finishing the last two miles on his own, even as darkness fell.

"For the cause," Jigme Norbu said, as he had on so many similar journeys before.

Norbu was alone on a dark coastal highway Monday when was struck and killed by a SUV. He was headed south in the same direction as traffic, following a white line along the side of the road, according to the Highway Patrol. The impact crumpled the vehicle's hood and shattered the front windshield.

Authorities said it appeared to be an accident and the driver, 31-year-old Keith O'Dell of Palm Coast, swerved but couldn't avoid Norbu. The Highway Patrol still was investigating, but didn't expect any charges. O'Dell and his 5-year-old son were not injured.

Norbu, 45, had completed at least 21 walks and bike rides, logging more than 7,800 miles in the U.S. and overseas to support freedom for Tibet and highlight the suffering of its people.