The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

February 5, 2013

Despite horror, Ala. child hostage seems OK

(Continued)

Officials hope to eventually throw a party to celebrate the boy's 6th birthday and to honor the memory of Charles Albert Poland Jr., the slain bus driver. No date has been set, Bynum said.

Midland City Elementary School principal Phillip Parker said he stands at the entrance to the school every day as the children arrive. The boy is a friendly, energetic child who comes up, shakes his hand and then continues on into the school as if he's in a hurry, Parker said.

Officials said there was no indication that Dykes had harmed the boy. State Sen. Harri Anne Smith represents Midland City and bonded with the boy's mother during the ordeal. Smith said the mother was encouraged the day the boy was abducted because Dykes asked officers to bring fried chicken — Ethan's favorite food.

"That was good news for her that Mr. Dykes was being kind to him," Smith said.

The boy gave his mother a big hug at the hospital, where officers gave the boy a teddy bear, Olson said.

"He's just a bundle of joy," Olson said.

For now, the boy's family just wants things to go back to normal — for all the reporters to go home, for him to be like any other kid.

"He has gone through a terrible ordeal, and I don't know if he will ever get over it," said Debra Cook, the boy's great aunt. "I just want him to be all right."

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