Donny Bynum, the Dale County School Superintendent said, “If more people wanted to be like Chuck the world would be a better place.”
Charles “Chuck” Poland Jr., the bus driver who was killed at the beginning of what has become a 6 day hostage situation in Midland City, Alabama, was remembered Sunday by hundreds of mourners at a local funeral parlor just miles from the underground bunker where his killer is still in a standoff with police. ABC 7 News reports that the 66-year-old military veteran was driving his school bus with 21 passengers—all children—last Tuesday when an armed man, 65-year-old Jim Lee Dykes boarded the bus and demanded Poland turn over two boys between the ages of 6 and 8 years old. When Poland refused to surrender any of the children and then attempted to block Dykes from moving further onto the bus he was shot multiple times. Dykes then abducted a 5-year-old boy, who remains with Dykes in an underground bunker.
Aaron Poland, the son of the victim, told NBC news it came as no surprise that his father died protecting a bus full of children. He said, “He considered them his children. And I know that’s the reason why my dad took those shots, for his children, just like he would do for me and my sister.” The children appeared to love Poland as well. Several of his “riders” wrote letters, which were read amid the prayers, songs, and scripture readings at his funeral. Courtney H. wrote, “To the best hero in the world. You didn’t deserve to die but you died knowing that you kept everyone safe…I’ll miss you forever.”
There is still very little information concerning the hostage situation, other than the fact that the authorities are in contact with Dykes, and he has allowed them to pass him coloring books, medication, and toys for the 5-year-old boy he is holding in the bunker. Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson has not said if Dykes has made any demands, adding that he is “limited in the details he can release.”
Photo: AP/Dale County Board of Education