Frank Edward Ray, the school bus driver hailed as a hero for helping to lead 26 children to safety after a bizarre kidnapping in the San Joaquin Valley town of Chowchilla 36 years ago, has died. He was 91.
Ray died Thursday in Chowchilla of complications of cirrhosis of the liver, said his granddaughter, Susan Ray.
On the next-to-last day of summer school in July 1976, Ray was driving a busload of children home when he slowed down on tree-lined Avenue 21 for a white van blocking the road.
Three masked men with guns jumped out and hijacked the bus, throwing Ray, the children and Chowchilla into history as victims of one of California's strangest crimes.