Three Killed, 26 Injured in Indianapolis Bus Crash

Bus carrying teenagers struck a retaining wall and flipped

 

 
 
 

RICK CALLAHAN, Associated Press | | Monday, July 29, 2013

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Indianapolis Bus Crash

Three killed and 26 injured.
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A bus carrying teenagers from a youth camp in northern Michigan was just minutes from home when it came speeding off an Indianapolis interstate, struck a retaining wall and flipped on its side.

The accident Saturday afternoon killed three people and injured dozens of others. Now investigators are working to determined what caused the accident that happened after a 365-mile journey and just a mile from the Colonial Hills Baptist Church where the bus was headed.

At the church, parents were waiting to pick up their children after a weeklong camp filled with prayer, zip lines and basketball when a bus carrying younger campers pulled in with passengers screaming.

Jeff Leffew, 44, of Fishers, had sent four daughters to Camp CoBeAc, near Prudenville, Mich. Just one of his girls was on the bus that pulled into the parking lot, and he raced to the crash site in northern Indianapolis. What he found was a surreal scene, with clothing and other items strewn about and windows missing from the bus.

"You're just praying that it's not as bad as it looks," said Leffew, a deacon at the church.

Leffew's daughters escaped with just bumps and bruises, but others weren't as fortunate. Indianapolis fire officials said a husband and wife were dead at the scene, along with a third person whose age they didn't describe. Twenty-six other people were taken to area hospitals, including at least one teenager in critical condition.

Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs called the crash a "great tragedy."

"They were not that far from home. ... That only adds to the tragedy," Riggs said at the crash scene.

He said there was no indication that the driver had a medical emergency.

WTHR-TV reported the bus driver told witnesses his brakes failed. Indianapolis Fire Department Lt. Ato McTush said investigators had not determined whether the church-owned bus had mechanical issues.

Witnesses to the crash described a horrifying scene.

Duane Lloyd told WTHR that he heard a loud noise behind him as he was traveling near the intersection and saw the crash around 4:15 p.m. — about the time youth pastor Chad Phelps had tweeted the group expected to arrive at the church.

"I heard a skid. I looked back. I see this bus in the air and people falling out of the bus," Lloyd said. "I could have gone my whole life without seeing that."

He said people approached and tried to help.

"People were literally trying to lift the bus," Lloyd said. "You just try to do what you can do."

Sasha Sample, 28, told The Indianapolis Star some victims were lying in the road, while others were able to limp to the side.

"Everybody had boils and scrapes on them," she said. "People were trying to climb from under the bus."

Sample, a nurse, said she borrowed a belt to make a tourniquet for the bus driver's arm but wasn't able to help the man next to him, who was already dead.

"I couldn't do anything for him," Sample said. "So you triage. You help those you can."

Fire officials said 37 people were on the bus and that the injured included children and adults.

Nine teenagers were taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital, including one in critical condition. Three of those were treated and released, hospital spokeswoman Sally Winter said. She said 10 others, including nine teenagers and a toddler, were taken to Riley Hospital for Children. Seven of those teenagers were treated and released, Winter said.

Many of the patients had head, arm and leg injuries, fire officials said.

Families of the bus passengers gathered at the church Saturday evening to comfort each other and pray.

Mayor Greg Ballard described many as "remarkably positive" despite their sorrow but said there will be difficult days ahead.

"Some of the teenagers are hurting pretty bad and you can see that in their faces," he said.

Leffew agreed, saying his daughters and other teens on the bus "saw some difficult things" that they'd never had to experience before.

"Their biggest pain is what they saw," he said.

Bob Taylor, who retired as the church's pastor four years ago, said members of the congregation would come together Sunday and take comfort in their faith.

"Our church family will meet tomorrow and pray together and sing songs together and just trust the lord to give his grace," he said.

___

Associated Press reporter Tom Murphy contributed to this story.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.



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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Indianapolis Bus Crash

Gallery 1

Indianapolis Bus Crash

Seat cushions, clothing and other objects line the pavement next to the wreckage of bus that crashed Saturday, July 27, 2013, on Indianapolis’ far north side while carrying teenagers returning from a summer camp in Michigan. Three people were killed and 26 others were taken to local hospitals following the crash, which occurred when the bus exited an interstate ramp and crashed into a concrete retaining wall. Investigators don’t yet know what caused the crash about a mile from its destination, Colonial Hills Baptist Church. (AP Photo/Rick Callahan)


Gallery 1

Indianapolis Bus Crash

Indianapolis firefighters and State Police investigators survey the wreckage of a bus that crashed Saturday, July 27, 2013, on Indianapolis’ far north side while carrying teenagers returning from a summer camp in Michigan. Three people were killed and 26 others were taken to local hospitals following the crash, which occurred when the bus exited an interstate ramp and crashed into a concrete retaining wall. Investigators don’t yet know what caused the crash about a mile from its destination, Colonial Hills Baptist Church. (AP Photo/Rick Callahan).


Gallery 1

Indianapolis Bus Crash

Indiana State Police investigators inspect the underside of a bus that crashed Saturday, July 27, 2013, on Indianapolis’ far north side while carrying teenagers returning from a summer camp in Michigan. Three people were killed and 26 others were taken to local hospitals following the crash, which occurred when the bus exited an interstate ramp and crashed into a concrete retaining wall. Investigators don’t yet know what caused the crash about a mile from its destination, Colonial Hills Baptist Church. (AP Photo/Rick Callahan).


Gallery 1

Indianapolis Bus Crash

Indiana State Police investigators inspect the underside of a bus that crashed Saturday, July 27, 2013, on Indianapolis’ far north side while carrying teenagers returning from a summer camp in Michigan. Three people were killed and 26 others were taken to local hospitals following the crash, which occurred when the bus exited an interstate ramp and crashed into a concrete retaining wall. Investigators don’t yet know what caused the crash about a mile from its destination, Colonial Hills Baptist Church. (AP Photo/Rick Callahan)


Gallery 1

Indianapolis Bus Crash

A firefighter spreads clean-up material after a bus crash Saturday, July 27, 2013 in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Fire Department says three people were killed when a bus carrying teens from a church camp crashed on a busy thoroughfare near Interstate 465. The bus was carrying 40 passengers who are members of Colonial Hill Baptist Church and were returning from camp when the crash happened Saturday afternoon. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Michelle Pemberton)


Gallery 1

Indianapolis Bus Crash

Firefighters work to extricate people from a bus crash Saturday, July 27, 2013 in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Fire Department says three people were killed when a bus carrying teens from a church camp crashed on a busy thoroughfare near Interstate 465. The bus was carrying 40 passengers who are members of Colonial Hill Baptist Church and were returning from camp when the crash happened Saturday afternoon. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Michelle Pemberton)


Gallery 1

Indianapolis Bus Crash

Firefighters work to extricate people from a bus crash Saturday, July 27, 2013 in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Fire Department says three people were killed when a bus carrying teens from a church camp crashed on a busy thoroughfare near Interstate 465. The bus was carrying 40 passengers who are members of Colonial Hill Baptist Church and were returning from camp when the crash happened Saturday afternoon. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Michelle Pemberton)


Gallery 1

Indianapolis Bus Crash

A woman is transported to a helicopter for transport to a hospital after a bus crash, Saturday, July 27, 2013 in Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Fire Department says three people were killed when a bus carrying teens from a church camp crashed on a busy thoroughfare near Interstate 465. The bus was carrying 40 passengers who are members of Colonial Hill Baptist Church and were returning from camp when the crash happened Saturday afternoon. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Michelle Pemberton)



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