Fatal Indiana Bus Crash Has Ties To Upstate - WSPA.com

Fatal Indiana Bus Crash Has Ties To Upstate

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A former Upstate couple, Chad and Courtney Phelps are dead after a fatal bus crash in Indianapolis. A former Upstate couple, Chad and Courtney Phelps are dead after a fatal bus crash in Indianapolis.
A bus lands on its side, after returning from a Michigan camp, killing three adults and an unborn child. A bus lands on its side, after returning from a Michigan camp, killing three adults and an unborn child.
A bus lands on its side, after returning from a Michigan camp, killing three adults and an unborn child. A bus lands on its side, after returning from a Michigan camp, killing three adults and an unborn child.
Indianapolis, IN -

July 28, 2013

Three adults and an unborn child with ties to the Upstate are dead after a bus crash in Indianapolis, Indiana Saturday evening, according to a statement released by Bob Jones University Sunday and 7 On Your Side's CBS affiliate, WISH TV in Indianapolis. 

"Bob Jones University is deeply saddened by the injury of a number of individuals and the deaths of three of our graduates and an unborn baby in the bus accident in Indianapolis Saturday. While situations like this are difficult to understand, we have absolute faith that God is in control of every circumstance in the lives of those who believe in Him. The Bob Jones University family continues to pray for those injured and their families, the families of those killed and the members of Colonial Hills Baptist Church at this difficult time" 

The statement was released just before 3 p.m. (EST) on Sunday, less than a day after the accident occurred on an Indianapolis highway.

7 On Your Side spoke with a Pastor at the Calvary Baptist Church in Simpsonville. Pastor Jeff Hamrick was the youth pastor at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis, where the students were returning to. Chad Phelps moved into the position of youth pastor at that church. His wife Courtney and her family attended the Calvary Baptist church in Simpsonville for more than ten years. The couple was married there and volunteered with the youth. 

"They just shared a passion for other peoples children and wanting to care for them," said Valentine. 

Cheryll Valentine was close friends with Courtney and trusted the couple with her children. She described them as kind, enthusiastic and joyful. 

"Her smile and hearing her laugh, its been in the forefront of my mind all day," Valentine said.

Pastor Hamrick said he and Chad would joke about Chad going to work for his father and if Hamrick had any advice for him. He said Phelps was excited about his new position, was settling in well and was doing an incredible job with the children.

"He knew what he believed and what he thought was right and he lived those things out. That was him and he did so joyfully with energy and Courtney was the same way. Everywhere she went lights came on, vibrant joyful giving, " he sad.

Hamrick said he is trying to console the members of his church that are grieving and remind them that the couple is in a better place. Hamrick said sometimes the best thing he can do is comfort and cry with friends and family of the couple. 

"From family and friends we hear it's a bittersweet time and for folk in church and people of faith during times of tragedy we cling to truth," said Hamrick.

The church is on a three day retreat and will discuss plans for a possible memorial when they return.

July 27, 2013

Rick Callahan

Indianapolis (AP)- A bus carrying teenagers returning to Indiana from a church camp in Michigan crashed Saturday afternoon just minutes from home, killing three people and sending 26 others to hospitals, officials said. 

The bus came speeding off of Interstate 465 in northern Indianapolis, about a mile from the Colonial Hills Baptist Church that passengers attended, struck a retaining wall as it rounded a curve and overturned. The campers were returning from Camp CoBeAc in northern Michigan, about six hours away.

The church's youth pastor had sent a tweet a couple of hours before the crash saying the group was expected to arrive at the church about 4:15 p.m., around the time the accident happened.

"They were not that far from home. That only adds to the tragedy," said Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

The dead included a man and his wife, Riggs said. Authorities did not provide information about the third victim.

Riggs and Mayor Greg Ballard visited the crash scene, where clothing, pillows and seat cushions from the bus were scattered along with at least two shattered windows, before they headed to the church. Riggs said there was no indication that the driver had a medical emergency and called the accident "a great tragedy."

Ballard said investigators were taking measurements and examining the bus to determine the cause of the crash.

WTHR-TV reported the bus driver told witnesses his brakes failed. Indianapolis Fire Department Lt. Ato McTush said police and fire officials had not determined whether the church-owned bus, which was carrying 37 passengers plus the driver, had mechanical issues.

Duane Lloyd told WTHR that he heard a loud noise behind him as he was traveling near the intersection and saw the crash around 4:15 p.m.

"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 Colonial Hills Baptist Church, cried as she stared at the wrecked bus.

"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. Several people stopped to help before first responders could arrive, including one man who helped pull the driver out of the bus, the department said.

"People were stopping their cars. People were literally trying to lift the bus," Lloyd said. "You just try to do what you can do."

Fire officials said the injured included children and adults.

Nine teenagers were taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital, including one in critical condition. Three of those were treated and released, hospital spokeswoman Sally Winter said. She said 10 others, including nine teenagers and a toddler, were taken to Riley Hospital for Children. Seven of those teenagers were treated and released, Winter said.

Many of the patients were suffering head, arm and leg injuries, fire officials said.

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

Outside the church, a yellow school bus with the church school's name was parked outside with piles of sleeping bags and suitcases nearby. Families hugged outside and talked quietly before going inside, where they met with Ballard and Riggs Saturday evening.

Ballard described the families as "remarkably positive" despite their sorrow.

"Some of the teenagers are hurting pretty bad and you can see that in their faces," he said.

Church member Jeff Leffew, 44, of Fishers, who had three daughters on the bus that crashed and a fourth on a second bus, said he was waiting to pick them up in the church parking lot when the second bus arrived. He said he knew immediately that something was wrong because the kids on the bus were screaming.

He went to the crash scene and found his three daughters with only bumps and bruises.

He called the crash scene "surreal."

"You're just praying that it's not as bad as it looks," he said.

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