Boy Who Survived Cancer Dies 'Unbearable' Death

Elyas Marshall-Rodriguez, 9, was killed after crawling under moving school bus in Florida
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2024 7:45 AM CST
Young Cancer Survivor Dies After Crawling Under Bus
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Sinenkiy)

Elyas Marshall-Rodriguez was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 2, but by age 9, the Florida boy was in remission and looking forward to moving on. That makes what happened at an Orange County bus stop this week doubly tragic: According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Elyas was killed at his bus stop Tuesday, just seconds after getting off his school bus, after he went under the bus as it started to move and was hit, reports NBC News. FHP officials say the accident happened around 3:45pm ET on Tuesday, when Elyas disembarked at his Orlando stop, but then inexplicably "ran back" and "crawled underneath" the vehicle, per WESH. The rear tire is said to have "collided" with Elyas, per FHP.

The outlet reports that Elyas was the last stop of the day and that no other students were on the bus. His death was ruled an accident by the Orange County medical examiner, with the cause of death said to have been cranial-cerebral trauma. It's still not clear why Elyas crawled under the bus, though an investigation continues. The 54-year-old bus driver remained at the scene and has been cooperating with the probe, per FHP. "We are still trying to figure out everything," says his cousin, Trenae Gayle.

A GoFundMe set up to help Elyas' family pay for funeral and other expenses had raised nearly $30,000 by Saturday morning. "Despite this grueling journey [Elyas] always had a smile on his face," wrote Gayle, who set up the fundraiser. "He truly was an outgoing, caring and loving child. He loved football and had dreams of playing in the NFL. ... His loss is truly unbearable and undeserving." Now, in the wake of Elyas' death, there's a "push for transportation safety," with experts reminding others how dangerous large vehicles like school buses can be, per WFTV.

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"There are blind spots all over," Bonnie Frank of the Florida Safety Council says. "The longer and the bigger the vehicle is, the bigger the blind spots are." She stresses that kids should be reminded to exercise caution when exiting a school bus, including by not trying to retrieve a dropped item if it ends up underneath the vehicle. "The driver sees you come off, [but] the driver doesn't know you're coming back," she notes. (More school bus stories.)

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