The 5-year-old Alabama boy held hostage in a bunker for a week appears to have been blessed by his youthful innocence. Judging from how he’s reportedly bounced back since his rescue, he may not have comprehended how much danger he was in.
He’s also blessed that the adults coming to his aid did know the danger, and acted prudently but decisively to free him.
Rescuers who liberated the boy Monday seemingly worked a miracle – freeing him unharmed while making sure his despicable captor never hurts anyone ever again.
Jimmy Lee Dykes, by all accounts a disagreeable and menacing presence in the Midland City, Ala., community, had already shown a willingness to kill – having shot the boy’s school bus driver dead before kidnapping the child and holing up in his bunker.
Many of the horrors visited upon children – abuse, assaults, kidnappings and more – come from supposed loved ones. Yet, this case represents a parent’s worst nightmare: a random, wholly unforeseeable attack by a stranger on the street. It literally could have been any child on that bus who was spirited away.
We can’t imagine what this family has gone through. If there was a machine you could strap to someone to measure torment, the parents of little Ethan would’ve been off the charts.
We hope it was of some comfort that the entire nation was watching, many praying fervently for the best ending possible.
And, after seeing how Algerian forces made a
catastrophe out of the recent hostage crisis at a gas plant there, in which nearly 40 hostages died – and remembering how hundreds died in bungled responses to the Beslan and Moscow theater hostage crises in Russia some years ago – it’s clear America is divinely fortunate to have expert emergency responders who take care to protect innocent life while bringing standoffs to an end.
While feeding the bunker with supplies to keep the boy’s spirits and health up, agents were reportedly able to sneak a miniature camera into the mix. That allowed them to make the observation that Dykes was
cradling his gun, and that the boy might be in imminent danger. That, combined with a “deterioration” in the negotiations, led authorities to act.
They not only saved the boy, but seem to have melted a witch in the process. As one news report put it, Dykes, who’d tangled with the law over the years, was described by neighbors as “a man who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property, and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a firearm.”
It has become axiomatic, of course, that anyone who could be so brutal to an animal should be considered a threat to humans as well.
The boy’s mother, others have said, was “hanging by a thread” during the agonizing ordeal. No parent should ever be put through something like this.
Thank God we live in a country with such able heroes as those who ended this crisis in the best way they could.
And as we walk away from this crisis and wipe the worry from our hands, we not only salute the rescuers but mentally leave a flower at the grave of Charles Albert Poland Jr., the school bus driver who gave his life to save his children.
Like the other heroes in this case, he did what he had to do.