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Weekend Express with Lynn Smith

Fast-paced look at the day's essential news and buzz-worthy stories

Youth pastor, wife, chaperone killed in Indiana bus crash

  • The crash happened a mile away from their final destination
  • The group, mostly teens, were returning from a Michigan camp
  • Bus driver claims brakes failed on the vehicle

A church trip ended in tragedy Saturday when a bus crash left three dead and at least 19 others injured.

Nearly 40 people, traveling back from a camp in Michigan, were a mile away from their church in Indianapolis when their vehicle flipped over after striking a concrete median.

Chad Phelps, youth pastor for Colonial Hills Baptist Church, and his wife, Courtney, were killed in the accident, said church deacon Jeff Leffew. The couple were expecting their second child in August. Leffew said Tonya Weindorf, who was a chaperone on the trip, also died. 

According to fire department spokeswoman Rita Burris, most of those on board were teenagers. Burris said the driver claimed his brakes failed as he was turning.

One witness said the accident seemed to happen "out of nowhere." Luggage, Capri Sun packets, sleeping bags were strewn along the roadway.

"I saw bodies everywhere, kids in shock and disbelief," said witness John Murphy. "There was an awful lot of blood."

Indianapolis police spokesman Michael Hewitt confirmed the single-vehicle accident was serious enough that two people had to be life-flighted from the crash scene. Eight people were driven to local hospitals and nine others were treated on-site.

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