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Youth pastor, pregnant wife among dead in Indiana bus crash

Chad Phelps and Courtney Phelps, in a photo from the Colonial Hills Baptist Church website. Colonial Hills Baptist Church

A youth pastor, his wife, who was eight months pregnant and a third person were killed after a bus returning from a church summer camp crashed off an Indianapolis interstate.

A total of 19 people were hurt in the accident Saturday afternoon, but health officials said early Monday that a teenager who was critically injured was now in "good condition."

Thirty-seven passengers were on the bus when it overturned just a mile from the Colonial Hills Baptist Church, where the bus was headed, according to The Associated Press.

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On Sunday, church deacon Jeff Leffew identified the deceased as youth pastor Chad Phelps and his wife, Courtney, who was eight months pregnant. Both were in their mid-20s, Leffew said.

The third victim was identified as Tonya Weindorf, 51, he said. Weindorf had taken her son, who has special needs, to the church camp.

According to Leffew, the Phelps' 2-year-old son was briefly held at a hospital before being released. Weindorf’s son remains among the hospitalized, the church deacon said Sunday.

Leffew, 44, of Fishers, Ind., who had sent four daughters to the camp, said the children on the bus "saw some difficult things" that they'd never had to experience before. "Their biggest pain is what they saw," he told The AP

"All these folks are special to us as members here, as friends. Our church grieves now," he told NBC station WTHR. "They're with God in heaven. We know that without a doubt, but we grieve the fact they're not here with us. We miss them. We ask for your prayer and support. We ask for your respect for the families that have lost loved ones."

Witnesses told police that the bus was exiting I-465 and trying to make a left onto southbound Keystone Avenue, WTHR reported. The bus driver later told a witness that his brakes failed, WTHR said.

IU Health Methodist Hospital said in a statement early Monday that it was treating three teenagers who were in "good condition" after the health of one of them improved. "The patient who was previously in critical condition has been moved out of the intensive care unit and is now in good condition," the hospital said.

Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health was also treating three teenagers in good condition. A fourth patient was treated and released, according to spokeswoman Sally Winter.

At the church, parents were waiting to pick up their children after a weeklong camp when news of the crash spread, sending parents scrambling to the scene.

Driver Duane Lloyd, who witnessed the crash, told WTHR: “I was going southbound.… Light turned green, and as I went through I heard a skid.

"I stop and I see this bus in the air and people flying out of this bus.… I could have gone my whole life without seeing that.

"People were stopping their cars and getting out and people were literally trying to lift the bus."

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 told The AP at the crash scene.

"Please be in prayer for our church family as we look to the Lord for grace during the teen bus accident today," the church said in a statement posted on Facebook. "Details will be released at a later time, but prayers are our greatest need right now."

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

Rescuers respond at the scene of the bush crash in this handout picture provided by the Indiana Fire Department