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Memorial fund to help families coping with sudden loss of child

The parents of Adam Kempf, killed in October by a van while he trying to board his school bus, are hoping to honor their son with a memorial fund to help victims of tragedies like theirs.

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COATS, N.C. — The parents of a Harnett County boy killed last year when he was hit by a van while trying to board his school bus are hoping to honor their son with a memorial fund to help victims of tragedies like theirs.
The Adam Kempf Memorial Fund will help families in critical needs, such as the sudden loss of a child, and help promote North Carolina's school bus stop law, which specifies when drivers must stop for buses loading and unloading children.

Adam, 12, a seventh-grade student at Coats-Erwin Middle School, was trying to board his bus on the morning of Oct. 25, when, authorities said, Fernando Ortiz-Soto swerved but couldn't avoid the boy.

Ortiz-Soto pleaded guilty this week to charges in the case and was sentenced to six to 17 months in prison – the maximum under state law, because he has no prior criminal record.

In the wake of the tragedy, the community raised thousands of dollars to help pay for Adam's burial expenses – more money than was needed.

"I'm not trying to profit off my son's death," Sharon Kempf said Tuesday. "We had all this money left over, and we're like, 'Well, let's pay it forward.'"

Kempf was on the front porch watching her son – the youngest of five children – at the bus stop that morning.

"Adam was my world," she said. "I love all my children equally, but he was the only one left at home. He was the reason I got up for work every morning."

The family, along with the Coats Chamber of Commerce, is still in the process of setting up a nonprofit group to administer the fund.

Kempf said she hopes it will help her and her family in the healing process.

"I want Adam's name to live on," she said.


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