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February 12, 2013  |   Comments (5)   |   Post a comment

More details on Alabama bus driver’s heroic response

By Thomas McMahon


MIDLAND CITY, Ala. — The confrontation between an armed intruder and school bus driver Charles Poland lasted more than four minutes, with Poland standing in the aisle to block the gunman from his students and refusing to move, according to a report from CNN.

The Dale County Schools bus was equipped with a video surveillance camera, which recorded the incident.

Citing sources who had been briefed on the video footage and witness statements, CNN reported that when Jimmy Lee Dykes boarded the bus with a gun and handed Poland a note demanding hostages, Poland stood in the aisle to block Dykes — despite the gunman telling him more than once that he would kill Poland if he got in the way.

Meanwhile, students in the back of the bus, drawing on their twice-per-year emergency evacuation training, opened the rear emergency exit so the passengers could escape.

After about four and a half minutes, Dykes allegedly shot Poland four times, killing him. Dykes then took one hostage, 5-year-old Ethan, who was sitting at the front of the bus.

Nearly a week later, after FBI agents stormed Dykes’ bunker and rescued Ethan, Dale County Schools Superintendent Donny Bynum thanked Poland “for the ultimate sacrifice” and said that “when all the information from this tragic event is revealed, we will clearly see a mighty man of God.”

Later, Bynum told the Dothan Eagle that he had spoken with an FBI agent who was familiar with the bus surveillance video and who confirmed Poland’s heroic actions.

“[The agent] said, ‘We don’t use the term hero very often, but there is no doubt that Mr. Poland was a true hero and he saved the lives of all those students on the bus,’ because it could’ve been catastrophic if more children were taken off that bus and put in the bunker,” Bynum told the Dothan Eagle. “[Poland] told [Dykes] something to the extent of, ‘These are my students, they are my responsibility, and you are not taking them off this bus.’”

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Read more about: Alabama, emergency planning, school bus security, weapons

Charles Poland is by all counts a real HERO. Having the will to confront a man holding a gun to save the children on his bus is not something bus drivers are trained to do. All bus drivers deal with weather, traffic and a variety of issues on the road daily, they should never have to go through the situation Charles Poland did. His actions should make us all ask ourselves, do we have it in us to react the same way. My condolences go out to his family.

Ron Smith    |    Feb 13, 2013 06:01 AM

He's a true American hero! God bless him!!

Tammy    |    Feb 13, 2013 05:47 AM

This man is truely a hero in every sense of the word. As a school transporatation manager and mother myself, I cannot say I would risk my own life as Mr. Poland did, but then who can say for certain in that situation. I believe God has given this man wings so he can watch over the children he saved. Bravo Mr. Poland.

Jackie    |    Feb 13, 2013 05:21 AM

Defining moment for sure, but still a hero every time he got behind the wheel of a school bus, in my opinion. That much time with an armed intruder on the bus, very sad that actual, real close-quarter training had not been provided all school bus drivers. He would still be with us, and still a hero. All he had was his body to distract the crazy, took courage to do that, something a hero does. Yes, a defining moment.

jkraemer    |    Feb 12, 2013 11:28 PM

Here's a rare case where the term Hero is properly applied. What courage.

Dan Herman    |    Feb 12, 2013 02:54 PM

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