It was exactly one week ago today when 65-year-old Vietnam vet Jimmy Lee Dykes stormed a school bus, demanded two children, and shot the heroic bus driver (who tried to defend the children) to death. He took a 5-year-old boy and went to an underground bunker where he held up for six horrible days.
Now Dykes is dead and the boy is safe after the FBI finally stormed the bunker due to sufficient fear that the boy was in imminent danger. Apparently the FBI had a camera in the bunker, though they will not say how they got it there, and saw Dykes with a gun.
Dykes was killed during the raid, allegedly at the hands of the authorities who shot him to death. He is gone and the child is safe. After this, the one question on everyone's mind seems to be: What happens to a child who has been through something like this?
The truth is, no one knows. The boy is said to have a mild form of autism and also suffers from ADHD. During the standoff, authorities passed snacks, toys, coloring books, and his medication into the bunker with Dykes' approval.
More from The Stir: Lost 2-Year-Old Rescued by Teen's Last-Minute Decision
Amazingly, he was rescued two days before his sixth birthday and is already laughing and happily reunited with his parents.
But what he saw can't be unseen. He saw his bus driver shot to death while trying to defend him. He cried for his parents day after day and didn't have those cries answered. He was held by a mad survivalist who may or may not have held a gun near or around him for an entire week.
It's true that he is so young, he may bounce completely back and have no lasting trauma. But it's also possible that he will be haunted by the memories, have bad dreams, and generally be anxious for years to come.
It's impossible to tell. What is clear is that this story has had a much happier ending than most of us had feared. This boy is safe and healthy enough to celebrate turning 6. I am sure in their hearts, his parents feared that he might not get to see this birthday or that he would still be underground. So this is as happy an ending as there could possibly be.
Let's hope that this little boy grows up strong and happy and that the trauma is something that disappears slowly over time.
Did you expect this to be the outcome of this story?
Image via bsabarnowl/Flickr