TODAY | February 04, 2013
>>> to that tense hostage drama in alabama entering its seventh day. this morning, police say they are still communicating with the suspect, holding a 5-year-old boy in an underground bunker . gabe gutierrez is covering the story for us in midland city, alabama . good morning.
>> reporter: savannah, good morning. the little boy , ethan , is supposed to turn 6 years old very soon. that means there's the haunting possibility that he could spend his birthday as a hostage. police are choosing their public comments very carefully, because the suspect might have access to television. you raise me up
>> reporter: south alabama is in mourning. bus driver charles poland's funeral sunday, friends and family remembered a man who died, protecting children.
>> his actions spoke louder than any word that is could ever have been said about him. he laid down his life for the kids on that bus.
>> reporter: police say his alleged killer, jimmy lee dykes, boarded a stopped school bus and demanded two kids. when poland refused, police say dykes shot him to death and took a boy named ethan with a mild form of autism hostage.
>> i wish i could just hug him and hold him and tell him it's going to be all right.
>> reporter: dykes has kept ethan in an underground bunker allowing him crackers, coloring books and medicine. as the standoff enters the second week, there's no telling how long it could last. psychologists say the toll on ethan could be significant.
>> the over dd riding thought in his head is that he wants his mother, that he just wants to be out of that situation.
>> reporter: the ordeal brings back eerie memories of another kidnapping in 1976 . three men with guns abducted 26 children, ages 5 to 14 from a school bus in chalchilla, california, the kidnappers forced them underground. they spent 16 terrible hours there, clutching each other in tears. the kids and their bus driver , also hailed as a hero, managed to escape. but 37 years later for many, the scars remain.
>> the long-term effects are very deep. to this day, i'm 46 years old and i sleep with a nightlight. and that's not normal for an adult.
>> reporter: in that case, the motive was ransom. here in alabama , the reason is still a mystery. at this point little ethan has been trapped underground for more than 134 hours, savannah.
>> gabe gutierrez in alabama for us. thank you.