In July 1976, summer school was in full swing in the small California town of Chowchilla, and bus driver Ed Ray had 26 children in his care as he drove them home. Out of nowhere, three men blocked the bus and perpetrated one of the largest-scale kidnappings in US history.
As if the abduction from a school bus - what is supposed to be a safe location - weren't enough, the three male kidnappers loaded their 27 targets into windowless vans for transport to a poorly made underground prison without sufficient food or water. Luckily for the children, Ray was determined to protect them and, joined by one of the students, succeeded in securing their escape.
Still, while the story has a seemingly happy ending, the long-term effects of captivity on the children, as well as the senseless reasoning behind the event, continue to haunt survivors and the town itself.
Bus Driver Ed Ray Was Taking A Group Of Children Home When The Vehicle Was HijackedPhoto: 48 Hours / CBS
Armed Men Loaded The Children Into Vans, Leaving The Bus AbandonedPhoto: Vanished Without a Trace / ABC
The Hostages Were Forced Into A Crumbling Underground BunkerVideo: YouTube
The Townspeople Noticed The Children's Absence Just 15 Minutes After They Disappeared