Andrea Park: The Chowchilla Survivor Now Leads a Private Life

The 1976 Chowchilla kidnapping is a case well-documented, given the number of children that were affected due to the actions of three kidnappers. Though the victims were, fortunately, able to escape the clutches of their abductors within a couple of days, the hours that they spent in the underground confinement remained a huge part of their lives. Consider Andrea Park, sister to Lawrence “Larry” Park, who was one of the survivors of the kidnapping. Given her brother’s words about her in Max’s ‘Chowchilla,’ many of the viewers have become curious about just where she might be these days.

Who is Andrea Park?

Andrea Park was eight years old in the summer of 1976 and lived in Chowchilla, California, alongside her brother, Larry Park, and parents, Janis and Rodney Park. On July 15, 1976, she got on the school bus driven by Edward “Ed” Ray alongside her brother in order to go home after spending a creative and fun time in her summer school. However, things quickly took a turn for the worse when three armed men decided to stop the bus.

What followed next could easily be the plot of a movie but was as real to the 26 children on the bus as fear in their hearts. The abductors drove the bus to a specific location where the kids were asked to get out of the bus and straight into a van lined up in front of the doorway. The kidnapped group was kept in the vans for hours as the men enacting the plan drove to a tented location. The kids and Ray were asked to get out of the bus one by one. The kidnappers wrote down the details of each of their victims before asking them to go down a hole that led to a place under the ground.

After all 27 people who were on the bus got down the hole, the kidnappers covered the opening with a manhole cover before piling dirt on top, essentially burying them all under the ground. As a young 8-year-old, the experience was undoubtedly terrifying for Andrea, but she tried to help out in the escape efforts as much as possible. Ultimately, with much work put in by people like Ray and Michael “Mike” Marshall, the kidnapping victims were able to escape.

When the group of 27 was able to reconnect with the civilization, the world rejoiced in their successful return. Not long afterward, the three men responsible for the whole situation, Frederick “Fred” Woods, James Schoenfeld, and Richard Schoenfeld, were arrested. However, while Andrea was physically out of the pit that she was buried in, she was still reeling from the trauma that it had caused her. Her parents and brother Larry worried about her health, especially when many people commented that the kids were making a swift recovery.

Where is Andrea Park Now?

In the Max documentary, Larry Park recalled how his parents stopped coming into his and his sister’s rooms in case of a nightmare as they felt that this might be “rewarding their behavior.” According to him, Andrea became highly introverted following her escape, contrary to her personality prior to the incident, which he described as “outgoing.” “She would not hug me,” he shared tearfully. “I would tell her that I loved her, and she would just ignore it like it was never said.”

Lawrence “Larry” Park

Over the years, Andrea seemingly dissociated from her family and even left Chowchilla. He stated how this only complicated his family’s dynamics as his parents started having problems, with his mother apparently losing faith in his father as a “protector.” Since then, it seems like Andrea prefers to lead a very private life. The Chowchilla survivor has not spoken much about the incident with the public, unlike her brother, who has been open about his desire for justice and reforms.

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