Report: No mechanical defects to Colonial Hills bus prior to crash

Crash report cites unsafe speed

INDIANAPOLIS - An inspection of the Colonial Hills bus by Indiana State Police revealed there were not any mechanical defects prior to the July crash that killed three people and injured many others.

The official crash report said unsafe speed was a factor and the bus was going too fast to safely negotiate the turn from the ramp onto southbound Keystone Avenue.

Indiana State Police have been investigating the crash since July 27, when a bus carrying members of Colonial Hills Baptist Church overturned on Keystone Avenue coming off Interstate 465. Church members were returning from a summer camp in Michigan.

The official crash report said the bus slid along the barrier wall before coming to a stop. The report said tire marks showed that the driver did brake, but was unable to avoid the wall.

The crash claimed the lives of youth pastor Chad Phelps and wife Courtney, along with Tonya Weindorf, a church member and mother of five. The Phelps' 2-year-old son survived the crash.

Witnesses told police the bus was speeding as it came off the highway.

The driver, 69-year-old Dennis Maurer, said the brakes on the bus failed. Maurer is also a member of the church.

In August, sources close to the investigation told RTV6 that an initial review of the bus showed that its brake system was working.

Church leaders said the bus had last been inspected in 2010, and defended their vehicles' maintenance records.

Following the release of the bus inspection, Colonial Hills Senior Pastor Charles Phelps and wife Linda Phelps, whose son and daughter-in-law were killed in the crash, released a statement describing Maurer as a friend of theirs and their children's.

"He carries a huge burden," the Phelps said. "We would like to ask our community to join us in praying for Dennis."

Deacon Jeff Leffew released the following statement on behalf of the 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."


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