The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

State News

July 28, 2013

Youth pastor, wife, chaperone died in bus crash

INDIANAPOLIS — The youth pastor of an Indianapolis church and his pregnant wife were among the three who died in Saturday's bus crash, a church leader said.

Youth pastor Chad Phelps and his wife, Courtney Phelps, were expecting their second child next month, Colonial Hills Baptist Church deacon Jeff Leffew said at a news conference Sunday. Chad Phelps is the son of the church's main pastor, Charles Phelps.

Tonya Weindorf, a mother of five who was a chaperone on the trip to the northern Michigan youth camp, also died, Leffew said.

"Our church grieves now. We grieve the fact that they're not here now. We miss them," Leffew said.

Dozens were injured in the crash, which happened Saturday afternoon on an Interstate 465 exit ramp. Bus driver Dennis Mauer, 68, told authorities that the brakes failed before the vehicle struck a raised concrete median and flipped on its side, according to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department report.

A toddler was among the injured passengers, Leffew said, noting it was the Phelps' 2-year-old son. IU Health spokeswoman Sally Winter said Sunday that the toddler had been released from the hospital.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing, authorities said. The bus was nearly finished with a 365-mile journey, overturning just a mile from the church, where parents were waiting to pick up their children after a weeklong camp filled with prayer, zip lines and basketball.

Leffew, 44, of Fishers, had sent four daughters to Camp CoBeAc, near Prudenville, Mich. Only one daughter was on the bus that pulled into the parking lot, and he raced to the crash site in northern Indianapolis. What he found was a surreal scene, with clothing and other items strewn about and windows missing from the bus.

"You're just praying that it's not as bad as it looks," he said. His daughters escaped with just bumps and bruises.

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