Church relying on faith after three die in bus crash

The charter bus was part of a caravan with this school bus bringing church members back from camp.
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Colonial Hills Baptist is a church in mourning, relying on their faith. Friends and family were gathered at the church, excited to welcome home children and family members, when they got news of the tragedy. A horrific bus crash claimed the lives of three members of the youth group, and several more were injured.

The church released this statement on their Facebook page early Sunday morning:

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. "Lord, because this is true - 'This God-His way is perfect; the Word of the LORD proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him' (Psalm 18:30)....please allow this to be true - 'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope' (Romans 15:13)."

At the church Saturday evening, Colonial Hills Baptist Church Pastor Emeritus Bob Taylor said, "We know God's grace is sufficient."

Members of the Colonial Hills Baptist Church weren't asking why Saturday afternoon.

"We know that God is in control and this was not a surprise to the Lord," said Pastor Emeritus Taylor.

The bus that crashed was part of a caravan of about 65 youth group church members traveling back from Michigan. The youngest children - fourth grade and younger - were on a yellow school bus. They were not injured.

The older children were on the bus that crashed. A married couple was killed in the crash, along with a teenager. Several teenagers were injured.

Church members comforted each other and the dozens of teens and young children who were on two buses when the one carrying the teens crashed just a mile from church returning from summer camp.

"They saw a lot. They saw some difficult things and they're dealing with it," said Jeff Leffew, parent and church deacon.

Jeff Leffew was at the church waiting for his four daughters to return.

"It's challenging their faith most certainly," said Leffew.

Leffew knew immediately something was wrong when only one bus pulled into the parking lot.

"We noticed immediately all the kids were screaming through the window and out the window and that wasn't normal," he said.

The bus driver got off that bus with the terrible news.

"He asked if I would pray, even though we didn't know what was happening other than there was a bus wreck and it wasn't good," said Leffew.

Leffew rushed to the chaotic scene at 96th and Keystone to try to find three of his daughters who were on the bus that crashed.

"They said I couldn't and I said, 'You're just going to have to do whatever you're going to have to do, but I'm going.' I figured if I could put my eyes on 'em and then go to jail, that would be worth it," said Leffew.

That's when Leffew saw his daughters, knew they were okay, but learned three others had lost their lives.

"It was surreal. It just didn't seem real," said Leffew.

The scene drew dozens of emergency crews and Mayor Greg Ballard, who later came to the church to offer comfort.

"It's very clearly that they are being guided by their faith right now. It's very evident," said Mayor Ballard.

This church family is drawing upon their faith now in the face of tragedy, asking the community to pray for them in their time of grief.

City-County Council President Maggie A. Lewis issued this statement:

"My prayers are with the families of Colonial Baptist Church whose lives will be forever changed after the bus accident which occurred earlier today. To the many first responders who were on sight, thank you for your courage and untiring efforts in handling this tragic situation. I encourage all of us to keep the entire Colonial Baptist Church community in our thoughts and prayers."