The congregation of Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indiana mourned Sunday the death of three of their members – the youth pastor, his pregnant wife and a chaperone who was a mother of five – in a bus crash that happened just a mile from the church.
Youth pastor Chad Phelps, his pregnant wife, Courtney Phelps, and 51-year-old chaperone Tonya Weindorf were killed on Saturday morning as the bus carrying 37 people, all from the Indianapolis church, crashed into a raised concrete median and overturned near Interstate 465, deacon Jeff Leffew told The Associated Press.
Dozens of people were injured, and six teenagers were still admitted to hospitals on Sunday. One of the injured was said to be in critical condition.
A 68-year-old congregation member, Dennis Maurer, was driving the church-owned bus and was about to reach the church after its 365-mile journey from Camp CoBeAc, near Prudenville, Mich., when the accident occurred. He told authorities the bus rammed into concrete after its brakes failed.
Courtney Phelps, a piano-teacher, was expecting a second child. Her first child, Chase, was also injured in the crash but was out of danger. "Chad's wife, Courtney, finished college with a degree in Piano Pedagogy. She loves to teach music! Courtney finds fulfillment in her relationship with Lord, mothering Chase, who was born in October of 2011, and in serving with Chad," the church website says.
Chad, her husband, was the son of the church's senior pastor. "Our youth pastor, Chad Phelps, joined the staff of Colonial Hills in 2012. Prior to coming to Colonial Hills, Chad completed his Bachelor of Arts in Humanities with a focus on Theology and Biblical Languages and attended Seminary, pursuing an MA in Pastoral Studies which will be completed in May of 2013," according to the church website.
Weindorf, a chaperone and church member, had accompanied her special-needs child to the camp. "She wanted to go and make it a good week, and according to her husband, it was a great week, and that's who Tonya was," Leffew said.
Leffew said the church was grateful to rescue workers and others who went to help soon after the crash. Local churches and businesses have also offered their support. "We are so grateful for that outpouring of love and care," he said.
"Please be in prayer for our church family as we look to the Lord for grace during the teen bus accident today," the church said on its Facebook page on Saturday. "Details will be released at a later time, but prayers are our greatest need right now."
The Indiana Fire Department told NBC News that 28 passengers were taken to area hospitals, Riley Hospital for Children, Wishard Memorial Hospital, Indiana University Methodist Hospital, St. Vincent Pharma Center and Community North Hospital.
"Thank you all for your tremendous outpouring of love and strength stated here and in numerous other ways. Through your prayers and the power of the Holy Spirit, the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be magnified as His people find Him to be sufficient even now," the church said in a statement posted on Facebook on Sunday.