The N.C. Highway Patrol said Timothy "T.J." Reeder was killed Thursday morning on U.S. 15/501 near Voit Gilmore Lane and a Comfort Inn, just outside the city limits of Pinehurst.
Authorities said 42-year-old William Gardner Mullen was delivering newspapers for the Fayetteville Observer when he saw two teenagers standing in the road.
Mullen swerved, avoiding a 15 year old, but struck and killed Reeder. Investigators said there was no way the accident could have been avoided.
Authorities told Reeder's parents that he and the other teen had just shoplifted from a nearby Walmart and were trying to hitch a ride.
The Reeders said they had not heard from their son since July 7, when he ran away from his foster home.
Behavioral issues led the boy to him being sent away from his adoptive family and into therapeutic foster care in Southern Pines. He was just two tests shy of earning his GED and a week and a half away from his 18th birthday.
No charges are expected to be brought against Mullen. Investigators said neither alcohol nor speed played a part in the accident.