Youth pastor, wife, chaperone died in bus crash

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press
(Credit: MGN Online)

(Credit: MGN Online)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- An Indianapolis church's youth pastor, his pregnant wife and a congregation member have died in a weekend bus crash.

Saturday's crash near Interstate 465 devastated members of Colonial Hills Baptist Church.

Deacon Jeff Leffew said that youth pastor Chad Phelps; his wife, Courtney Phelps; and chaperone Tonya Weindorf died In the accident.

Bus driver Dennis Maurer told police that the brakes failed before the church-owned vehicle struck a raised concrete median and flipped on its side, injuring dozens of campers and church members who were returning from northern Michigan. One teenager is still in critical condition.

Leffew said the Phelps' were in their mid-20s and expecting their second child.

He said the 51-year-old Weindorf was a mother of five who accompanied her special needs child on the trip.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- A bus carrying teens coming home from a church camp crashed Saturday after exiting an interstate in Indianapolis, killing three people and sending 26 others to hospitals, officials said.

Indianapolis Fire Department Lt. Ato McTush said the dead included a man and a woman. He did not have information about the third victim.

Witnesses said the bus came speeding off of Interstate 465 on Saturday afternoon, struck a retaining wall as it tried to round a curve and overturned. WTHR-TV reported the bus driver told witnesses his brakes failed.

Duane Lloyd told the TV station that he heard a loud noise behind him as he was traveling near the intersection and saw the crash.

"I heard a skid. I looked back. I see this bus in the air and people falling out of the bus," Lloyd said. "I could have gone my whole life without seeing that."

Karen Woodard, a member of the Colonia Hills Baptist Church, cried as she stared at the wrecked bus surrounded by pillows, water bottles and clothing. She said the bus was returning from a youth camp in Michigan and that some of the teens had their parents with them.

"It's so terrible. I can't believe it," she said.

Indianapolis Fire Department said crews had to free five people who were trapped inside after the crash. Four good Samaritans helped before first responders could arrive, including one man who helped pull the driver out, the agency said.

The bus was carrying 40 passengers who are members of Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis and were returning from a summer camp. The Fire Department said those injured included children and adults.

Indianapolis Fire Department spokesman Capt. Rita Burris said survivors were taken to area hospitals. Some of the victims were taken by helicopter.

Roads near the scene were closed, and authorities were urging people to use caution in the area. A hazardous materials crew was cleaning up diesel fuel that spilled in the crash.

Outside the church about a mile away, families gathered to hug and talk quietly as parents paced back and forth talking on cellphones. A yellow school bus with the church school's name was parked outside with piles of sleeping bags and suitcases nearby.

(Copyright 2013, The Associated Press)


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