School officials identified the victim as 12-year-old Adam Kempf. He was a student at Coats-Erwin Middle School.
Investigators said the school bus was making its regular stop on N.C. Highway 27 West at Bill Avery Road, just outside of Coats, at 7:08 a.m. when it happened.
Officials identified the driver of the car as Fernando Ortiz Soto. He was charged with felony death by motor vehicle, failure to stop for a school bus, and having no driver's license.
The bus driver said the vehicle's flashing lights were activated and the stop arm was out when a car hit the teen in the middle of the road.
Kempf was taken to Betsy Johnson Memorial Hospital in Dunn, where he was declared dead.
Meanwhile, a memorial to Kempf is quickly growing. Messages to him are scrawled on a brick wall outside his home.
His friends gathered to share memories of the boy.
"The moment you talked to him, he was your friend," said friend Dontae Elliott. "I believe that's why everybody came and put their name on the wall, because they were his friend. He just loved them all."
"Just shows you how fragile life is," Kempf's aunt, Rena Hodges. "He was walking, and in a second, he's lifeless."
Kempf's loved ones say the boy's death is bringing them together.
"Today he's taught us a lot because this has got to be for a reason," said Hodges. "The reason is he's sending a message that we need to come together as a community, as his family."
A recorded message went out to all Harnett County parents, informing them of the tragedy. The 25 students on Bus 161 were transferred to another bus and taken to school, where a crisis team was waiting to talk to them.