Pastor: No words can express grief after son, daughter-in-law killed in crash


The families of a couple killed in Saturday's church bus crash spoke publicly about their loved ones Wednesday.

"There's no words that can express our grief," said Dr. Charles Phelps, pastor of Colonial Hills Baptist Church.

Phelps' son Chad and his pregnant wife Courtney and Tonya Weindorf, another church member, died in the crash on Keystone Avenue near 96th Street.

"Our lives were changed forever," said the pastor, although he added he was grateful to his faith for bringing comfort during a very difficult time.

"There's no words we can express our grief; we're so very thankful for the peace of God that passes all understanding. We found comfort in the promises we've discovered in the Bible. We're blessed to have shared our dear son with Dr. Russell and Sarah Gaddy, as they shared their precious daughter with us," he said.

He also said the two families have found comfort in each other in their time of grief. His voice broke as he spoke of his two-year-old grandson Chase who survived the crash.

"Together we rejoice that God, in his grace, spared sweet Chase," he said. "We want to thank every single person who's prayed for us and who's continued to do so. We need it desperately."

Courtney was pregnant with the couple's second child. Tonya Weindorf was a mother of five who was accompanying her special needs son to camp last week.

"Our hearts are broken and the grief at times is overwhelming. However, we do not sorrow as those who have no hope. We know that we will see Chad and Courtney again and we will meet our dear granddaughter at that time," said Dr. Russell Gaddy, father of Courtney Phelps.

The couple met in college and led the youth group at Colonial Hills. They made it their mission to minister to young people.

"We know that God has a plan for all of us left behind. We're so thankful that God spared our grandson Chase so that he could be included in that plan," he said. "The outpouring of love and care that has been shown to us through the caring people of these communities has been very remarkable. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We covet your continued prayers as we continue to live without our loved ones."

The crash sent 26 passengers on the bus to local hospitals. As of Wednesday, three remained hospitalized in good condition. Most of the injured were teenagers who were members of the youth group that was returning from summer camp in Michigan. The bus was just a mile from the church when it crashed.

"We have heard from those who were there that Courtney in her last moments was able to push Chase it seems to safety," Pastor Phelps said. "That's who Courtney was and that's the cause of great joy."

Both families are relying on their faith in God and the promise of continuing the mission Chad and Courtney started.


Local, state and federal investigators are still trying to determine exactly what caused the crash.

Indiana State Police are focusing on the mechanical elements of the bus.

Because the bus driver said he noticed brake problems just before the crash, inspectors from ISP's Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division have been closely examining the bus' brake pads, brake drums, brake rods and any skid marks on the pavement of North Keystone Avenue to see if they can find evidence of a massive brake failure.

Funeral arrangements

Visitation for Tonya Weindorf will be held Thursday from 3-7 p.m and her funeral will be held Friday at 10:30 a.m. Visitation for Chad and Courtney Phelps will be held from 3-7 p.m. on Friday, with the couple's funeral Saturday at 11 a.m.

All services will be held at Colonial Hills Baptist Church.