"She sacrificed her own life to save the life of this 10-year-old girl," said Akron police Lt. Rick Edwards.
The bus driver has been identified as 51-year-old Laura Zborowski of Akron.
Edwards said the bus pulled up beside Middlebury Academy in Akron and Zborowski asked the students to perform routine evacuation drills. The students, about 40 children ranging from kindergartners to eighth-graders, first exited the bus at the front and lined up single file on the sidewalk as instructed. They then got back on the bus and exited the rear emergency exit, Edwards said.
The 10-year-old girl, the last to exit, was climbing out the back of the bus when the vehicle started rolling backward, Edwards said. Zborowski threw the girl onto the tree lawn and then the bus rolled over Zborowski.
"I don't think she had time to react," Edwards said.
The bus came to a stop after rolling into a tree, Edwards said.
Middlebury Academy and the Akron school district sent grief counselors to the charter school.
"Our focus is making sure kids feel safe and [supported ]and to get whatever resources we can into the school immediately," school executive director Joe Palmer said.
Edwards said the Ohio State Highway Patrol will examine the mechanics of the bus to determine what caused it to roll backward. National Express spokeswoman Molly Hart said the Warrenville, Illinois, company is working with local authorities and conducting its own investigation.