A ten-year-old girl has been hailed a hero after she threw herself in the path of a runaway vehicle to save the lives of two young children. Kiera Larsen leapt to help the toddlers after a Mercedes SUV began rolling down a sloping driveway in Lakeside, California.

She was able to push Adison, aged one, and two-year-old Emma out of the way, but was hit by the car herself. Tragically, she died in hospital after the accident on Monday. (22 February)

Alyssa Jenkins, the mother of the two children, told KGTV: "She saved both my daughters' lives, my two kids, and both could have been gone in an instant. She stepped in and did what she knows and that's to protect those around her. She is truly a hero and will forever be my kids' guardian angel."

Mr Jenkins added: "She was a big sister to them. She was always looking out for them and she gave her life for my kids."

According to Sky News, Officer Kevin Pearlstein, of the California Highway Patrol, said: "A 10-year-old girl pushed another child out of the way of the in-motion vehicle. Unfortunately, while doing this the vehicle struck the 10-year-old girl causing major injuries. We're going to do an inspection on the vehicle, find out why this happened, find out if there was some sort of malfunction on the vehicle and go from there."

A GoFundMe page has been set up for her family and has so far nearly raised $75,000 (£54,000).

The post on the page reads: "The entire Larsen family cannot thank every single one of you for your love, support and prayers. You have no idea how much seeing the support from so many people has helped us during this incredibly tough time. Again, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts.

"Those of you who had the pleasure of knowing Kiera know that she is such an amazing, beautiful, smart and funny little girl. She truly brings so much love and happiness to so many people."