Mike Marshall: Where is the Chowchilla Survivor Now?

The story of Michael “Mike” Marshall is one of courage, determination, and unrelenting drive, which certainly has impressed those who have come to know him. At the age of 14 years old, he played a strong role in helping 25 other students and the bus driver escape the clutches of their kidnappers, who had buried them under the ground. Decades later, his role in the rescue has once again come to light thanks to Max’s ‘Chowchilla,’ leaving many curious about his current whereabouts.

Who is Mike Marshall?

July 15, 1976, was already an unusual day for Mike Marshall, a then 14-year-old resident of Chowchilla, California. The night prior, he had tried to sneakily drink some of his mother’s beer and make some popcorn, which proved to be disastrous. As a punishment, he was told that he would have to take the school bus home the next day from his summer school. Usually, Carol Marshall, his mother, would pick him up from school and, hence, thought this to be a fitting consequence for his actions.

Hence, on the fateful day, Mike was on the school bus driven by Edward “Ed” Ray, along with 25 other students, when three men with guns decided to hijack the bus. Pointing their weapons at Ray, they asked him to move to the back before driving the bus to a particular location, where they told everyone to get in two of the vans. The children and Ray were then taken to a specially constructed tent where they were asked to go down a hole one by one, which was later covered with a cover and then some dirt.

While down in the ground, Ed Ray first attempted to see if the cover would budge but found no way to move it, which made him come down. However, Mike was determined not to lose hope and, as such, tried one of his own after he and the other students stacked up the available mattresses. Though Mike confessed that he did not feel the cover move despite his own attempts, he was told by the other children that it did. Not much later, Ray joined him, and the two were able to lift the cover just a bit.

Through the narrow crack that they had been able to make, Mike pushed his hand around to find a heavy battery on the top of the cover, which was the reason for the resistance. With much effort, he was able to move it off, only to find that there was some sort of box on top of it, buried under dirt and three feet high. Though Ed had apparently given up at this point and was wary of what the kidnappers might do should they find that everyone was trying to escape, Mike did not give up.

In the Max documentary, Mike talked about how he found dirt on one side of the box, which, when removed, was replaced by more of the dirt from above. With one of the other kids shining light above, Mike continued to remove the dirt; he started to believe that the kidnappers were up. Exhausted, he lifted the box and confessed to seeing some up beyond a dark doorway, which prompted him to come down. However, shortly afterward, he regained his determination and continued to hit the top of the box until he was able to break it, revealing sunlight.  This allowed everyone to escape the confines of their underground prison and find help.

Mike Marshall is Now a Father

Following his escape from his kidnappers, Mike Marshall confessed how he did not share his side of the story with the world immediately afterward. Though many of the other children had claimed that it was Mike who helped them, the media and the public gave most of the credit to Ed Ray, who had admittedly also played a significant role in helping the kids escape. All of this, combined with his own traumatic experience in the underground confines, led to the decline of Mike’s mental health for some time.

“Before the kidnapping, I could see so much light ahead of me, see my future,” Mike shared. “But then, after the kidnapping, I couldn’t see anything.” He shared how his plans to be a rodeo cowboy like his father felt like a dream, as he only wanted to forget about the kidnapping. At the age of 19-20, he tried to drown his past and sorrows in alcohol but did not find a more fulfilling solution to his declining mental health for the longest time.

Mike confessed that his alcohol and drug use led him to go through rehabilitation centers on seven different occasions. However, the Chowchilla kidnapping survivor has since turned his life around very much. He also confessed that hearing Larry Park call him his “hero” helped him feel much more at peace. Mike shared how, at the age of 48, he decided to turn his life around.  Now, he has realized his dreams of being a rodeo cowboy and attends various events. Having moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, in the early 1980s, Mike has a daughter named Kasery, whom he seems to love very much.

Read More: Where is Larry Park Now?