Midland City might be a small, southern town. But last month, it got the attention of the nation when a man killed a school bus driver and then held a little boy hostage for more than a week.
Sheriff Olson spoke to people at the Brundidge Rotary Club meeting today about that hostage situation. Many of them had questions about the standoff and he had the answers.
It has been a month since the Wiregrass went through the unimaginable.
Chief Moses Davenport said, “Someone had been killed. Now we have a kidnapping and a hostage”
But Sheriff Olson doesn’t want the negative aspects of the case to be the only ones people remember. “Let’s look and focus on the positive things, the way people came together in a tragic time and helped one another,” he said.
He spoke about the lessons he learned. “I call myself organized. Until I had to experience something like that and I realized maybe I wasn’t as organized as I thought I was.”
And the equipment he realized his department needs. “Night visions, because you are on a perimeter 24 hours a day throughout the night. We do have night vision but we don’t have a lot of it.”
And the toll that week took on him personally. “You are doing everything you can possible do and you sit down and realize you can’t do anymore than what you do. That is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Because I want to do so much. But, anything you do could be detrimental to a little boys life.”
In a room full of admiration for a job well done, the Sheriff made sure to praise what he calls the real heroes.
“It is a result of being taught by Mr. Poland the proper way to evacuate a bus, things like that, things that me or you would never have thought about. Mr. Poland is a hero. And those kids are heroes because they made sure that everyone one of those kids were taken off that bus and taken to a safe location. Those kids are heroes,” he said.
He also spoke about events leading up to Charles Poland being shot on his school bus before Ethan was grabbed by Dykes and held hostage. There was a lot of speculation about the relationship between Poland and Jimmy Dykes. The Sheriff said Dykes befriended Poland, even making a path on the road for Poland to turn around his school bus. Sheriff Olson said that friendship ultimately cost him his life.
“I feel like that was part of his plan. That was the reason he had done all that. That way he would be vulnerable,” he said.
A “Celebration of Life” service in honor of Mr. Poland will be held on Friday, March 15 at 1:30 p.m. at Midland City School. There will be a service and a balloon release on the school’s playground.