First Video of Ethan--The Little Boy Who Survived A Week In Underground Bunker With Bus Driver Killer
Looks like a cute and happy little boy...very sweet to finally see him and see how happy he is. I was praying for Ethan's safe return and rescue. I'm so glad it ended well, despite the gunfight. I hope he doesn't have any psychological effects from any of this and is able to put this horrible experience behind him.
According to the Associated Press, Dykes “rigged the bunker with explosives, tried to reinforce it against any raid, and when SWAT agents stormed the shelter Monday to rescue the boy, Jimmy Lee Dykes engaged in a firefight that left the captor dead.”
ABC’s video showed Ethan all smiles, playing with his toys. His older brother spoke to GMA about the harrowing experience and the relief of learning of Ethan’s rescue. SWAT teams were negotiating with Jimmy Lee Dykes, and got the boy out just before his sixth birthday.
According to ABC:
The 5-year-old named Ethan who was held in an underground bunker for a week in Alabama after his captor pulled the boy from a school bus and killed the driver, will likely remember the trauma.
"Will this child remember this? The answer is absolutely," said Rahil Briggs, a psychologist and director of the Healthy Steps program at Children's Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. "We know across the board that memories attached to a highly emotional situation seem to have the most staying power in our minds. It will have quite an impact." Briggs has not seen or treated the child.
Ethan was still unable to tell his parents what transpired during the week he was held captive, according to Debra Cook, who with the rest of the family calls her great nephew, "little buddy."
Kenneth Dodge, a clinical psychologist and professor of public policy at Duke University. "Any 5- or 6-year-old going through this kind of experience -- let alone an adult -- would be traumatized."
The images of little Ethan sparked memories in Katie Beers, who was only 10 when she was held in an underground bunker in Long Island by a family friend for 17 days in 1993. Today, at 30, she looks back on the ordeal in a new book, "Buried Memories."
"I'm really hoping that he's going to be able to get the privacy and counseling he is ultimately going to need to return to some kind of normalcy," Beers, who is now married with two children, 3 and 18-months, and lives in Pennsylvania, told ABCNews.com today. "For me, I had no normalcy before my ordeal. I went from one abnormalcy to another."
Beers was abused as a child and then sexually assaulted by her captor, John Esposito. She said in a previous interview with ABC, "I would never say you are 100 percent recovered."
Ethan's great aunt said the family had no idea what Dykes may have done with the boy during his captivity. "As far as he goes, we were given just very little information on him," said Cook.
Even though many of the details are not clear, what Ethan experienced was likely "quite scary and traumatic," according to psychologist Dodge. "I can only imagine what it was like for him."
"Children go through all kinds of trauma and this sounds pretty acute and severe," he said. "What we know about these kinds of general experiences is that there is a lot of temporary anxiety."
Kidnapping Trauma Can Linger
After trauma, children are likely to have temporary bouts of sleeplessness and cling to adults. Some will want to talk about the experience, and other children will not.
The long-term effects of trauma can include the signs of post-traumatic stress: chronic sleeplessness, anxiety, depression as well as substance abuse, said Dodge. Therapy is important, especially in the immediate aftermath of the experience.
"But the good majority of children will survive the trauma well in the long run, due to the support of their caregivers," he said.
Getting a child to talk about the experience can be helpful, but "it's a very fine line to walk and a hard one for adults," according to Montefiore's Briggs. "Make sure you are creating an environment and clear message that the child can talk about it."
But adults should be careful not to respond in a "fearful or anxious" way, said Briggs. "Otherwise you are sending him the message, 'Oops, don't go there.'
How Ethan copes will depend largely on how stable his life has been up until now.
"The strongest predictor of how a child functions after a trauma is how they were functioning before a trauma," said Briggs. "If he was, indeed, doing quite well, and had good coping skills, stability and routine, that's important for a 5-year-old and we hope he will emerge relatively intact. Children are very resilient."
And for now, Ethan's family also seems resilient.
"I was telling some of the family that if I could I would do cartwheels all the way down the road," said his great aunt Cook after learning that boy had survived unharmed.
"I was just ecstatic," she said. "Everything just seemed like it was so much clearer. We had all been walking around in a fog and everybody was just excited. There's no words to put how we felt and how relieved we were."Ethan celebrated his 6th birthday on Wednesday. I'm so happy he was able to celebrate his birthday and be reunited with them before his birthday! They say he hasn't spoken much about his experience in the bunker or the man who held him, but he looks very happy.
More on the rescue from the AP:
|"For the first time in almost a week, I woke up this morning to the most beautiful sight ... my sweet boy," she said. |
"I can't describe how incredible it is to hold him again."