‘Hero’ bus driver hailed from Athol

Print Article

COEUR d’ALENE — The Alabama school bus driver who died Tuesday while trying to protect the children on his bus from an armed kidnapper has deep North Idaho roots.

Charles “Chuck” Poland, 66, lived in Fernwood while growing up, and later moved to Athol, where his mother, Mildred Poland, and a sister, Vicki Upchurch, still reside.

“He was just a good person. His whole life was his family, his kids, his friends,” Upchurch said, in a phone interview Thursday with The Press. “He was very religious, and he lived it.”

Poland’s death is connected to a story now making national headlines. According to the Associated Press, Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old retired truck driver, boarded Poland’s stopped school bus Tuesday afternoon and demanded two young boys. When Poland tried to block the man’s way, Dykes shot the bus driver several times and took a kindergartner off the bus.

Since the day of the shooting, Dykes has been holding the 5-year-old boy, whose name is being withheld, in an underground bunker on his property in Midland City, Ala. Hostage negotiators have been speaking to Dykes through a 4-inch-wide PVC pipe, trying to convince the man to release the child.

“Today, we are extending our hearts and prayers for the safe return of one our students and we are mourning a hero, 66-year-old Charles Poland, who gave his life to protect 21 students who are now home safely with their families,” said Dale County Schools Superintendent Donny Bynum, in a statement published Wednesday in the Dothan Eagle. “He was a valuable member of our transportation department, and we will forever remember him for the bravery he showed yesterday.”

Upchurch said she was shocked when she learned that her older brother had been shot, but not surprised that he was willing to die to protect the kids on his bus.

“He was kind and caring, and he always had a smile on his face,” she said.

Upchurch, a year younger than Poland, said she and her brother were very close. They attended Lakeland High School in Rathdrum. The siblings have a younger sister, Patti Hook, of Deer Park, Wash.

Poland’s Inland Northwest family members, including his 87-year-old mother, Mildred, are taking the man’s sudden death particularly hard, Upchurch said. She and her sister each lost their husbands to illnesses earlier this year.

After high school, Poland joined the service. He was stationed in Alabama where he met and married his wife of 43 years, Mary Janice Poland.

Upchurch, a former Athol mayor, said her brother was a retired diesel mechanic.

His wife worked as a substitute teacher.

“Everybody loved him. We’d see him probably every two years. This is just really, really hard,” Upchurch said.

She and her daughter flew to Alabama early Friday, she said. Services are planned to take place this weekend.

“This was just so unexpected and unbelievable,” she said.

Print Article

Read More News

The Latest: Tokyo subway temporarily closed over N. Korea

AP

April 28, 2017 at 9:01 pm | SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The Latest on North Korea test-firing a missile Saturday (all times local): 1:05 p.m. One of Tokyo's major subways systems says it shut down all lines for 10 minutes...

Comments

Read More

Celebrating ‘collective confidence’

April 28, 2017 at 11:49 am | Coeur d'Alene Press By BRIAN WALKER Hagadone News Network COEUR d'ALENE — From strong roots comes the prospect of bountiful fruit. The first 30 years of Jobs Plus have laid the foundation for exciting economic deve...

Comments

Read More

Second arrest in alleged beating

April 28, 2017 at 11:48 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — A second suspect has been arrested in connection with an alleged attack that hospitalized a Bonner County man last month. Shane Alan Carson, 30, is charged with first-degree kidnapping a...

Comments

Read More

City puts public art on display

April 28, 2017 at 11:48 am | Bonner County Daily Bee SANDPOINT — The Sandpoint Arts Commission will soon create a program of annually alternating sculptures on the Sand Creek bike and pedestrian path near City Beach called the "Silver Box Project....

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(208) 263-9534
PO Box 159
Sandpoint, ID 83864

©2017 Bonner County Daily Bee Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X