INDIANAPOLIS - An Indianapolis church commemorated an emotional anniversary Saturday even as parents happily reunited with children returning from an annual retreat.
Many of those same parents were at Colonial Hills Baptist Church a year ago, waiting for a bus that would crash just miles from its destination.
"It was emotional as we approached the exit," said church member Jeff Leffew. "It was a year ago tomorrow that the kids were coming home and the accident occurred, so it was emotional."
Last year, on July 27th, the church's youth bus was heading back from the retreat when it crashed five miles from the church. Investigators said the bus driver lost control as he was exiting I-465.
Three people died in the crash: Youth Pastor Chad Phelps; his pregnant wife Courtney Phelps; and Tonya Weindorf, a wife and mother of five.
Thirty six children survived the crash. Most of them went back to camp this summer, church leaders said. Among them was Michael Smith.
"I mean, you never forget the memory, but it may not stab you quite as hard," Smith said. "But, it's still painful."
Investigators said the bus didn't slow down enough to make the turn. No charges were ultimately filed in the crash.
Since the accident, church leaders say it's been a year of growth and unity.
"You appreciate life a little bit more," Leffew said. "You certainly appreciate our faith a little bit more, and you just recognize how precious each day is."
The Colonial Hills youth group is still fundraising to replace the bus . So far, they've raised about $15,000 for the cause.
The RTV6 Master Guide to the Indy 500
You're going to the Indy 500 this weekend – and you think you know it all. But just in case … we've got the end-all,…
Two Hoosiers on the 'Route for the Brave'
Two Indiana men are walking across the country with a goal to help military members and their families.
Markleville PD building shelter for victims
A small Central Indiana community plans big steps to protect victims of domestic violence.
Former driver Randy Lewis finds success in wine
Randy Lewis got a late start as a driver in the Indianapolis 500.
Race day different this year for Sarah Fisher
Sarah Fisher has come a long way since 2000, when she drove as a 19-year-old in the Indianapolis 500 for the first time.