Larry Park was only six years old when three armed men hijacked the school bus he was traveling on. The men, later identified as Frederick Woods, James Schoenfeld, and Richard Schoenfeld, kidnapped 26 school children along with their bus driver and kept them captive in a deplorable condition for several hours. ’48 Hours: Remembering the Chowchilla Kidnapping’ chronicles the horrific incident and portrays how Larry and his friends escaped from captivity. Let’s delve into the details and find out where Larry Park is now, shall we?
Who is Larry Park?
Larry Park was a six-year-old schoolboy when he went through the horrific ordeal of being abducted and kept captive inside an old truck trailer. Reports mention that on July 15, 1976, Larry and 25 other school children, all between the ages of 5 to 14 years, were traveling home from a summer school when their bus was accosted just outside the city of Chowchilla, California. Although the bus driver, Ed Ray, initially attempted to stop the assailants, he soon noticed they were all carrying guns. Thus, considering the children’s safety, he followed their orders, and the kidnappers forced everyone into the backs of two windowless vans.
The survivors recounted that they drove for about 12 hours without any sense of direction until the kidnappers stopped at a rock quarry. The police later discovered the survivors were in a quarry in Livermore, California, about 100 miles from the kidnapping spot. Larry mentioned that once the abductors reached the quarry, they took the children to a hole and forced them to jump inside.
Even Ed was asked to follow suit, and they all found themselves inside an old truck trailer buried 12 feet underground. Although the kidnappers provided the captives with some food and water, it was not enough for all 27 of them, and they knew that the chances of being rescued were next to none. Hence, once the attackers went away, Ed and a 14-year-old boy named Michael Marshall pushed the cover away from the mouth of the hole they had jumped through.
Once the entrance was unblocked, Michael hoisted himself into the tiny space and began digging upwards slowly. Soon the others joined the effort, and after several hours in captivity, the children and Ed found themselves back on the surface. The group then went looking for help until a few local quarry workers helped them contact law enforcement officials.
Where is Larry Park Now?
Once law enforcement officials took over the investigation, they brought the survivors to the Santa Rita Rehabilitation Center, where they were given food and water. From there, the children were allowed to travel back to their families, who were waiting in Chowchilla. Besides, Larry even mentioned that the authorities arranged a trip to Disneyland shortly after the incident, hoping it would help the kids forget the terrifying ordeal they had been through.
However, taking the pain away wasn’t easy, and Larry carries the scars in his memory to this day. In an interview with People, he talked about the aftermath of the kidnapping and said, “After the kidnapping, I started to hear a voice in my head. When I was 11, it turned violent. I fantasized about killing my kidnappers. I’ve spent a lifetime blaming the kidnapping for everything that went wrong in my life. I don’t know if that’s fair. But the kidnapping blew all the problems I had before wide open.”
Nevertheless, Larry completed his schooling at the Preston School of Industry before pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Christian Counseling from the AMES Intl School of Ministry. Currently, he is based out of Mariposa, California, and earns a living by working as a Pastor. Additionally, Larry helps youngsters as a Christian counselor and spreads the message of forgiveness. He believes that one can find hope and peace through forgiveness and hopes that his experience will help him heal the pain of others. Readers will also be glad to know that Larry is in a happy relationship, and we hope he finds success in all his future endeavors.