It happened just before 9 a.m. on N.C. Highway 111, shortly after the truck left a NCDOT maintenance yard on McKendree Church Road, just outside Tarboro.
Tarboro Police Chief Damon Williams identified the dead man as 46-year-old Officer Charles Johnson. The driver of the truck was not hurt.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the driver who died in this tragic accident and with our employee who was involved," said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata in a statement. "Our team will work closely with law enforcement to investigate and thoroughly review all of our safety procedures to understand how this happened and what steps we can take to prevent something like this from happening again."
Williams said his department's thoughts are with Officer Johnson's wife Tracy and their young sons.
"A benevolent fund is set up at Providence bank in Tarboro [Providence Bank, 325 N. Main St. (P.O. Box 339) Tarboro, NC]. All donations will go to Charles' family. We encourage everyone to share this information and please donate what you can. Thank you all for the kind words and condolences in our time of loss," he said.
His fellow officers put Johnson's squad car on Main Street on display with black draped across the hood and flowers around it Wednesday.
Officers tell us they lost a friend.
"Charles loved being a police officer. He'd been with us over 24 years," said Tarboro Police Lt. Keith Hale. "He loved the community. He loved his job, and most of all he loved his family -- both his wife and his two boys. I think Charles would just want to be known as a dedicated officer. He come to work every day, didn't lay out sick. Did it to the best of his ability and was as straight as they come."
A funeral for Johnson will take place on Friday at Edgecombe Community College at 3 p.m. A visitation will take place beforehand.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating. It said a preliminary investigation shows the driver of the truck - 29-year-old William Allen Harrell II, of Macclesfield - was headed west when he crossed the center line and hit a Honda van driven by Johnson.
Troopers said once the investigation is complete, officers will confer with the Edgecombe County District Attorney's office about possible charges.