1 / 7
FILE - In this July 17, 1976 file photo, school bus driver Ed Ray Jr. steps from the bus that returned him and 26 school children home to Chowchilla, Calif., after the were kidnapped by three men. Ray, the school bus driver hailed as a hero for helping 26 students escape after three men kidnapped the group and buried the entire bus underground in 1976 died on Thursday, May 17, 2012. He was 91. (AP Photo)

Hero in '76 school bus kidnapping dies

The nation called Ed Ray a hero when he led a terrified group of children to safety after they were kidnapped aboard their school bus and held underground for ransom in the summer of 1976 in Chowchilla, Calif. Ray became the children's lifelong friend until he died May 17 at 91 from complications of cirrhosis of the liver.