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Church dedicates new bus 2 years after deadly crash

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Colonial Hills Baptist Church  at 8140 Union Chapel Road hosted an “Open-Bus” on Sunday morning. This is nearly two years after the church’s previous bus was involved in a crash, killing three adults and an unborn child.

On July 27, 2013, church members were on board the bus returning from a summer camp when it overturned at Keystone Avenue and I-465. Youth Pastor Chad Phelps, his wife Courtney, their unborn daughter, and Tanya Weindorf were killed in the crash. The bus was a total loss.

Member Herb Gaines said, “My son was on the bus and I observed the accident as it took place.”

Donations totaling nearly $60,000 poured in from across the country to help Colonial Hills Baptist buy a new bus. The church’s youth group also sold wristbands. The new bus is completely paid for.

Member Jeff Leffew said, “The kids needed to do something. When you have a tragedy like that there needs to be something tangible and for them to, one, come up with the idea on their own with no adult telling them how to do it. And two, they really all jumped behind it.”

The 2005 bus holds 55 passengers. It has the church’s name and logo on its side. There is also a graphic of a remembrance-bracelet to memorialize the 2013 event.

Gaines, who drove the bus from its garage across the street from the church to the church’s parking lot, said, “”It drives like a Cadillac. It’s a dream. It’s really exciting to have it.”

The bus almost didn’t belong to Colonial Hills. The church was in a bidding war for the bus on eBay.

Leffew said, “We tried to buy it on eBay and started to compete against somebody, we didn’t know who it was. Ultimately, we kind of lost out and a couple of days later a person in the church got a phone that said, ‘We were the folks who bought the bus against you, but we’ve been praying about it and haven’t been able to sleep and we would like to sell it to you at the same price if you want to buy it,’ and that was Jim Bob Duggar.”

That’s Jim Bob Duggar of the reality TV show “19 Kids and Counting”. Leffew said a few members went to the Duggar’s Arkansas home and after mingling with the large family the church members returned to Colonial Hills Baptist with their new coach.

Church members said their new bus will allow them to continue their ministry. They thank everyone who helped the church purchase the new bus.