Adam Kempf, 12, died Thursday morning after being hit by a vehicle while trying to board a stopped school bus. Ortiz-Soto has a driver’s license from Mexico, but not from North Carolina. The ICE has a detainer on him, meaning ICE will get custody of him whenever he is released and then determine if he is in the country illegally, according to the Harnett County Detention Center. Police says Ortiz-Soto was driving the vehicle. He has been charged with felony death by motor vehicle and operating a vehicle with no license. Alcohol and speed were not factors in the accident, according to authorities.
Friends and strangers comfort family of boy killed while getting on school bus in Coats NC
Credit: Steve Sbraccia for NBC-17
Makeshift memorial emerges in front of Adam Kempf's home
Harnett County boy killed trying to board school bus
By: Justin Quesinberry and Steve Sbraccia | NBC17.com
Published: October 25, 2012
Credit: Harnett Co. Detention Center
COATS, N.C. -- The mother of a seventh-grader who was killed at his bus stop Thursday pleaded with drivers to be more careful when school buses stop for children.
Adam Kempf, 12, died Thursday morning after being hit by a vehicle while trying to board a stopped school bus.
“Parents be more careful. Watch your kids,” a tearful Sharon Kempf told NBC-17. “I don’t care how old they were. If I had another one, I’d walk them across the street before the school bus (even if they were) a senior in high school.”
The incident happened around 7 a.m. Thursday on N.C. 27 near Bill Avery Road just outside of Coats. The Highway Patrol said Fernando Ortiz-Soto was driving a work van, with two passengers with him, when he hit Kempf.
“He was the smartest, easiest-going kid you would ever meet,” his mother said. “Never gave me a lick of trouble. Loved school. Loved to read. History books was his favorite to read. He’d read books that were this thick or more in a day, you know. Four or 500 pages in a day was no problem for him. And, he’d remember everything he read. He was smart. So smart.”
Sharon Kempf was on the front porch when the accident happened.
“The bus is stopped and the arm came out, complete stop, and I thought the van had blew a tire. And, his sister said, ‘Oh my God, Mama, that was Adam.’ That’s all I remember. I don’t remember nothing else,” she said.
Police says Ortiz-Soto was driving the vehicle, a Ford work van. He has been charged with felony death by motor vehicle and operating a vehicle with no license. Alcohol and speed were not factors in the accident, according to authorities.
Kempf never saw the driver but said,"Why? Why did you not stop? What was so rushed to be there? What could have been so important to get somewhere that you don’t stop for a school bus? I don’t understand it.”
Ortiz-Soto has a driver’s license from Mexico, but not from North Carolina. The ICE has a detainer on him, meaning ICE will get custody of him whenever he is released and then determine if he is in the country illegally, according to the Harnett County Detention Center.
Kempf wanted to speak with the media so that others will pay attention to school buses.
"They have the arms out there, because the little kids are crossing the streets. They can get hurt," Kempf said.
Twenty-seven students were on the bus at the time of the accident. A second bus picked up the students and took them to school. Grief counselors were on hand at the school.
The tragedy came just two weeks after the North Carolina Highway Patrol held a week-long "Operation Stop Arm" to bring attention to the problem. That state-wide effort ran Oct. 15-19.
In the hours after Adam Kempf was killed, the space in front of his home was turned into a makeshift memorial.
Stuffed animals and toys were placed next to a cross for the 12-yr-old.
“The monkey that you see, his nickname used to be monkey,” said Adam’s best friend Dante Elliott. “He loved monkeys so they got him monkeys.”
In addition to the makeshift memorial, the wall in front of his family’s home became a billboard filled with loving tributes from family and friends who spray-painted their thoughts in bold white letters.
“He was such a tender boy; taken in such a brutal way. It's more than I can bear,” said his aunt Renee Hodges.
It wasn’t just friends of the family who showed up at the home where Adam lived.
Total strangers came offering the family words of comfort.
“I don't know these people but I imagine what if it had been me, if it was my grandchild that was hit,” said Wyoma Moses. “My heart goes out to the mother and the family.”
Other strangers are also offering financial aid to help bury the youngster.
“They don't have the money to take care of this,” said family friend Christie McLeod. “It’s warming to my heart that these people they don't even know are coming and saying ‘take this it’s I have’ because this baby deserves to have the best funeral.”
Adam's death in front of a school bus full of classmates was traumatic.
“We're all taking it pretty rough,” said Dante Elliott. “It’s hard when you loose somebody you love.”
There are harsh words for the driver who struck and killed Adam.
“I hope he rots in hell,” said Adam’s Aunt Renee.
Friends and strangers comfort family of boy killed while getting on school bus in Coats NC | NBC17.com