IMPD report cites unsafe speed in fatal church bus crash

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The police report in a fatal church bus crash this summer cites unsafe speed as the primary cause of the crash.

The Metro Police report on the July 27 crash of a Colonial Hills Baptist Church bus that killed three people, including a youth minister and his pregnant wife, also noted that Indiana State Police investigators found no mechanical defects prior to the crash.

Read the report here.

The driver of the bus told police at the scene that the brakes failed before the crash as the bus exited I-465 to turn south on North Keystone Avenue. 

The Metro Police officer says the bus was "traveling too fast to safely negotiate the turn."  The report says the right front side of the bus hit the barrier wall on the west side of Keystone followed by the right rear of the bus, which caused the bus to tip over the wall.  It says the bus then slid along the west side of the all.

Officers say, based on skid marks at the scene, it appears the driver, Dennis Maurer, tried to brake before the crash.  The report also says his physical condition appeared to be "normal," despite injuries to his back. 

The bus was bringing students and chaperones home from a week at church camp in Michigan.  The crash killed the youth pastor, Chad Phelps, 25, and his pregnant wife, Courtney, 23.  Their son, two-year-old Chase, was on the bus and survived. Tonya Weindorf, a 51-year-old mother of five, also died in the crash.

Statement from Jeff Leffew, Deacon at Colonial Hills Baptist Church:

"On behalf of Colonial Hills Baptist Church and all the families involved in the July 27th bus accident, we want to thank the Indiana State Police and IMPD for their diligence and hard work with the ongoing investigation into the cause of the incident.  The extreme difficulty of overcoming such an unexpected event has only been softened by our confidence in God's goodness and His care and love for us along with a concerned community of friends who have overwhelmed us with their compassion. 

We are thankful for so many individuals, churches and organizations that have prayed for all the families involved in this incident and have shown countless acts of kindness and generosity toward our church family.  Thank you for praying with us for the healing of those injured in the crash, as well as the Phelps, Gaddy and Weindorf families as they grieve the loss of their loved ones.  Please also continue to pray for our bus driver, Denny Maurer, a beloved member of our church family, who is still recovering from his injuries. 

As our church moves forward together, we look to God for strength and courage, and we look ahead with faith and hope. Once again, we thank all of the Central Indiana community for your many expressions of love and your continued prayers."