• Son: Bus driver dad gave life protecting kids

    Updated:

    HICKORY, N.C. - The son of an Alabama bus driver killed last week during a standoff with a gunman told Eyewitness News he's even prouder of his dad after authorities briefed him on what happened during the 4½-minute ordeal.

    Aaron Poland lives in Hickory. His dad, Charles, was driving his school bus on Jan. 29 when police said Jimmy Lee Dykes came on board with a gun. He handed a note to Poland demanding to take several children. A 5-year-old boy named Ethan was in the front seat because Poland liked to keep watch over the special needs child.

    "My dad was very adamant saying, 'You're not taking any of these children. They're my responsibility," said Aaron Poland, which didn't surprise him at all. "He loved his children. He called them 'his children.'"

    Authorities said Charles Poland then stepped into the aisle so that he was between Dykes and the children. The students started escaping from the back of the bus. As the standoff continued, Dykes shot Poland four times, killing him. He grabbed Ethan and left.

    Dykes held Ethan in an underground bunker for nearly a week until FBI agents finally raided it Tuesday. They shot and killed Dykes and rescued Ethan.

    Aaron Poland said he was elated that Ethan was reunited with his mother.

    That's my dad's goal, it was his purpose, to make sure every child was delivered to his mom or dad safe every day," he said.

    Poland also said he has forgiven Dykes for killing his dad. He said it was the hardest thing he's ever done, but he knows it's what his dad would have wanted.


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