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Nine-year-old boy killed after crawling under school bus to 'retrieve football'

A nine-year-old boy has died after he crawled under a school bus that had just dropped him off at his stop.

Witnesses told US network ABC News that Elyas Marshall Rodriguez had dropped his football under the bus in Orange County, Florida, and went to retrieve it before the vehicle pulled away.

Writing on an online fundraising page set to support Elyas' mother after her ordeal, the boy's cousin, Trenae Gayle, said the boy was a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with Leukaemia aged two.

Ms Gayle added: "Despite this... he always had a smile on his face and had been in remission.

"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. My aunt will never be the same and in the wake of this tragedy she also has two other children to care and provide for."

Ms Gayle added that Elyas was a "resilient and energy-filled boy with a joy of life" who was "senselessly and tragically killed".

She told Sky News' US partner NBC News that Elyas' mother knew something was wrong when he failed to arrive home after school.

Ms Gayle added that his mother went to look for him at the nearby playground and saw the aftermath of the crash.

The Orange County Public Schools bus had stopped at a roundabout when Elyas stepped off the vehicle, Florida Highway Patrol said in a news release.

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The driver then pulled away before Elyas "ran back" and "crawled underneath" the bus, the statement added.

The highway patrol said the boy died after a rear tyre "collided" with him.

The Orange County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the manner of death on Tuesday an accident, and the cause of death cranial-cerebral trauma.

The highway patrol said the incident was still a "very active traffic homicide investigation".

The 54-year-old driver, who has not been publicly identified, remained at the scene, the highway patrol said.

The fundraising page for Elyas' mother had collected more than $18,000 (£14,000) of its $30,000 (£24,000) target at the time of writing on Thursday.