HomeWire ReportsCalifornia Students Research, Retrace 1976 Chowchilla School Bus Kidnapping

California Students Research, Retrace 1976 Chowchilla School Bus Kidnapping

Eighth-graders from Dixieland Elementary School in Northern California are collaborating with three other Madera Unified schools to write a book on the infamous Chowchilla school bus kidnapping, reported ABC30.

On July 15, 1976, three kidnappers abducted at gunpoint a school bus driver and 26 student passengers, ages 5 to 14. The victims were buried in a box truck in Livermore, California, and the kidnappers demanded a ransom for their return.

The eighth-graders on Monday retraced the steps the victims were forced to take more than 43 years ago. The students boarded their own school bus and followed the exact route that Edward Ray allegedly took that day, when mastermind Fred Woods and his accomplices, brothers Rick and Jim Schoenfeld, commandeered the vehicle.

The students visited the Berenda Slough, where the victims were buried for 18 hours until they managed to escape. They also visited the spot where the abduction began, and along with the Chowchilla Police Department, viewed a monument that honors the survivors.


Related: Chowchilla Kidnappers on Life After Prison
Related: D.A. Investigating Whether Chowchilla Victims Were Paid to Support Kidnappers
Related: Last of Chowchilla School Bus Kidnappers Denied Parole
Related: Heroic Chowchilla School Bus Driver, Ed Ray, Remembered
Related: After 36 Years, Chowchilla Kidnapper Released from Prison


The students also visited Edward Ray Park, which is named after the heroic driver, and they saw the bus itself at Bright’s Pioneer Museum located in Le Grand.

The sheriff’s department reportedly said it hopes the project will help preserve a piece of the past. Survivors are also being invited to come and speak to the students’ class.

The Schoenfeld brothers have since been released from prison. However, Woods was recently denied parole for the 17th time in October.

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