KVIA(EL PASO, Texas) — When a car careened toward a mother and students outside a Texas elementary school, she put herself in front of the children before being struck and killed, according to the school district.

Kharisma James and three students were struck by a driver who had apparently hit the accelerator instead of the brake by accident in the parking lot of Tippin Elementary School Monday afternoon, according to the El Paso Independent School District.

As the car headed forward, James stepped in front of the three children and took the brunt of the hit, witnesses reported, according to school district spokesman Gustavo Reveles.

James, 33, died at the scene, the district said, and the three injured students were taken to hospitals. James’ relationship to the injured children was unclear.

Reveles called the elementary school and district “a tight-knit community and one that takes care of its own, especially the children.”

“We’re saddened by the event but not surprised that someone would sacrifice themselves in this manner,” he told ABC News Tuesday.

The children were listed in varying conditions, including critical and critical but stable, Reveles said.

Counselors responded to the scene to help students and staff who witnessed the accident, the district said, and the driver was taken into custody but it’s unclear whether charges have been filed.

The school district called it a “tragic accident.”

“At times like this, students process grief in many ways,” the school district said in a statement, adding that counselors will be available at school Tuesday.

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