HICKORY, N.C. -- The son of a murdered school bus driver credited with saving 22 school children in Alabama spoke exclusively to NBC Charlotte Wednesday night about his father's life and death.
Aaron Poland had just returned home to Hickory from burying his dad, Charles "Chuck" Poland a few days earlier.
"Daddy lived for a purpose and he died for a purpose," said Aaron Poland. "Every time my dad got on that bus it wasn't like he was just transporting. Those were his kids when they were on his bus and he treated them like they were his. I think that is why he did what he did."
Police said Chuck Poland was killed January 29 on a school bus while protecting the students from an armed Jimmy Lee Dykes. Dykes shot Poland and took a five-year-old, Ethan, hostage. Dykes kept Ethan in a bunker at his home for eight days until law enforcement killed him Monday. Ethan escaped unharmed.
"If it had to happen at all, I thank God it happened on that bus," admitted Poland. "Because I know my dad was strong enough to do what he needed to do."
Poland said his father was a man of strong faith, as is the rest of the family.
"I know my Dad would have wanted to forgive [Jimmy Dykes] and I have forgiven him. My family spent our time there praying for Jimmy Dykes and Ethan. When mom heard Ethan was free and safe, she said, 'I'm glad. Your dad's final drop is done. He delivered the final child into his mother's arms safely. So the job is done. He completed it. It is final.'"