LINDEN, N.J. - A quick-thinking and fast-acting schoolteacher has been hailed as a hero after she jumped into an SUV that was rolling toward a group of students outside a school in Linden, New Jersey, on Wednesday.
The school district shared video footage from a security camera at Soehl Middle School that shows an SUV pulling up to the curb, the driver exiting, and then the vehicle rolling forward.
The video also shows a group of middle-schoolers standing on the sidewalk a few dozen feet away and the SUV rolling over the curb and onto the sidewalk.
Teacher Valerie Tauriello, who appears to be wearing an orthopedic boot on one leg, waves at another teacher and the children while she runs around the SUV and gets in the driver-side door, the video shows.
The driver of the SUV — a parent — then runs in front of the vehicle, briefly puts their hands on the hood, and then comes around to the door, the video shows.
The SUV then stops, according to the video.
Tauriello is also the head softball coach for Linden High School and said her athletic training kicked in even though she has been wearing the orthopedic boot for an "old injury that was acting up," according to Linden Public Schools.
"I know I can't run that fast, so at first I was kind of frozen," Tauriello said, according to a post by the school district. "But I was like, 'Oh my God, I have to stop this car or it's going to hurt somebody.'"
Tauriello said she didn't realize how hard jumping into a moving car would be.
"At first I couldn't really get in because the car was moving faster than I expected it to," she said. "So I just ran a little faster and just hopped in and put [it] into park."
Principal Gwendolyn Long said the school and its extended family are "blessed to have" Tauriello.
"She did not hesitate to risk her life to save our students," Long said in the district's post. "This is the person she is, and this is every day with Ms. Tauriello, thinking of our students first."
This story was produced in New York City with Storyful.