Elyas Marshall-Rodriguez was cancer survivor


The 9-year-old Florida boy who was killed after he reportedly crawled under a school bus to retrieve a football was a cancer survivor who had “been through a lot” in his short life, his family revealed during a candlelight vigil Wednesday.

A group of about 100 relatives and community members gathered outside the east Orlando apartment building where Elyas Marshall-Rodriguez was run over by his school bus moments after being dropped off Tuesday afternoon.

Trenae Gayle, the boy’s cousin, said the 9-year-old had been in remission after being diagnosed with leukemia at the age of two, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

“He had already been through a lot in his life, so for this to happen is like a spine lodged in our hearts,” Gayle said.

Gayle described the youngster as a compassionate and bubbly boy.

Elyas Marshall-Rodriguez, a 9-year-old childhood cancer survivor, was killed by a school bus Tuesday. Courtesy Marshall-Rodriguez family

“He was one of those kids, you couldn’t come around him sad,” the cousin told the paper.

“He was going to pick you up. He was very protective of his brothers and sisters. He worshipped his mother — every morning, he woke her up. Made both of their coffees, sometimes hot chocolate,” she said.

Marshall-Rodriguez’s aunt had told Fox 35 Orlando on Wednesday that the boy had ducked under the school bus to grab a football, but Gayle reportedly said at the vigil that no family members had witnessed that. She did say that Elyas was an avid youth football player and dreamed of playing in the NFL when he grew up.

Elyas attended third grade at the nearby Lawton Childes Elementary School, where he had many friends. He was also well-known and liked in his community.

“He loved being around people. He loved being outside,” Gayle said. “He was well known in the area. A lot of parents loved him, allowed him to come over.”

“We can already feel that shift in the home. It’s going to be very hard. “We just have to take it day by day,” the grieving cousin reportedly added.

Elyas was struck after crawling beneath the school bus to retrieve a dropped football, according to his aunt. WOFL

Shortly before 4 p.m. Tuesday, Elyas exited his school bus in the parking lot of the Waterford East Apartments, the last student to be dropped off that day, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

But moments later, the third-grader ran back to the vehicle and crawled underneath it, unbeknownst to the 54-year-old bus driver who put the bus into motion, causing the rear tire to strike the boy, killing him, officials said.

There were no other children on the bus at the time, and the veteran bus driver remained at the scene to be interviewed by troopers.

Elyas is survived by his mother and two siblings, one of whom has autism and is legally blind, according to the description of a GoFundMe campaign launched by Gayle to help pay for her cousin’s funeral and the family’s living expenses.

As of Thursday, more than $17,000 has been raised.

“His loss is truly unbearable and undeserving,” the cousin wrote. “My aunt will never be the same and in the wake of this tragedy.”

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