It happened at just before 7 a.m. along Highway 43 between Nobles Mill Pond Road and Clover Road in the Edgecombe County section of Rocky Mount.
Investigators said Eddie Suggs was driving south on Hwy 43 when he saw two children standing on the northbound shoulder of the road and a third child standing on the southbound shoulder. He told authorities he started to slow down due to the children as a school bus approached at the same time.
Officials said the third child, identified as 7-year-old Janelle Simmons, darted into the road and was hit by Suggs' 2002 Ford pickup truck. The impact threw her an estimated 30 feet.
Simmons was taken to Nash General Hospital where she later died. No charges will be filed against Suggs and speed was not a factor.
Simmons' grandfather told ABC11 Thursday that the family doesn't blame the driver.
"I could imagine being a father, imagine hitting a child and the condition that she was in, and seeing that and know that I was involved in that? I could feel his pain," offered Daniel Simmons. "If he could take it back, I'm pretty sure he would, but you can't, so all we can do is move forward."
Daniel said his granddaughter was energetic and spirited, always dancing, and always looking to make him laugh.
"She always had a smile on her face," he said. "We're very thankful right now that we had the opportunity to love her and she had the opportunity to feel and know love."