Heroic bus driver remembered on anniversary of his death
Taking students home on the afternoon of January 29, 2013, Jim Dykes boarded the bus that Chuck Poland drove and threatened to kidnap children.
MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (WTVY) - Not a day goes by that Lydia Hancock doesn’t yearn for her dad, as she still struggles to come to grips with his death during an unselfish and heroic act.
“”I actually called him that afternoon before he left on his (school bus) route and that is the last time I talked to him,” Lydia recalled on Sunday’s 10-year anniversary of Charles “Chuck” Poland’s untimely death.
Taking students home on the afternoon of January 29, 2013, Jim Dykes boarded the bus that Poland, 66, drove and threatened to kidnap children.
Dykes settled his eyes on five-year-old Ethan Gilman, who sat immediately behind the driver’s seat.
Poland stepped between abductor and student as Dykes fired the deadly shot that struck Poland, an Army veteran.
“We don’t get him. We don’t get to experience him,” Lydia said of her father’s death and the painful grief that followed.
She has blocked most memories of the tragedy, barely recalling the funeral where thousands honored her father.
She also avoids the stretch of U.S. 231 that passes through Midland City near where the shooting and Ethan’s abduction occurred.
“I try not to go that way,” she told News 4.
Her father has been honored posthumously several times, acts of gratitude that Lydia finds comforting but does little to remove the void left in the aftermath of her father’s death.
“In a heartbeat, I would trade all that to have Daddy back,” she said.
Once has she met Ethan, the boy that her father died to protect and who Jim Dykes held captive in an underground bunker for six days before a daring rescue freed him.
They spoke briefly during a Montgomery ceremony that honored Poland.
Following his tragic abduction, Ethan was adopted and, according to his friends and family, is thriving.
Poland’s widow, Jan, has relocated to be near Lydia and her family.
Dykes was shot during the daring rescue.
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