The Herald Bulletin

November 18, 2013

No criminal charges in Indy church bus crash


The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — The driver of an Indianapolis church bus that crashed, killing three passengers, will not face criminal charges, a prosecutor said Monday.

Dennis Maurer, 68, of Indianapolis, will be issued only a traffic ticket for running a red light on an Interstate 465 exit ramp, Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry said.

"The investigation has clearly determined that no criminal activity led to the July crash," Curry said in a news release. "I hope that the conclusion of this investigation provides some solace to the victims, families, and entire church community affected by this tragic incident."

Maurer was driving the bus filled with Colonial Hills Baptists Church youths and chaperones returning from a camping trip in Michigan July 27 when it failed to negotiate a turn onto Keystone Avenue on the north side of Indianapolis, struck a concrete median and overturned.

The crash killed church youth pastor Chad Phelps, 25; his pregnant wife, Courtney Phelps, 23; and 51-year-old Tonya Weindorf, who attended the camp with her special-needs child. About 30 others were injured.

Crash reconstruction analysis determined the speed of the bus at the time of the crash was about 40-45 mph and within the posted speed limit, Curry said. The analysis determined the speed of the bus on the exit ramp is considered the primary cause of the crash, which occurred about a mile from the church and the completion of the drive from Michigan.

The bus was found to be in proper operating condition with no mechanical malfunctions, and Maurer was determined to be properly licensed to operate the bus, Curry said.

Colonial Hills Deacon Jeff Leffew said in a statement last week that Maurer was a beloved church member who's still recovering from his injuries. A police report said Maurer suffered back injuries.

A telephone call to Maurer's home Monday was not answered.