A bus carrying teenagers who were returning from a church camp in Michigan crashed just minutes from home, killing three people and sending 26 others to the hospital, officials said.
The bus came speeding off Interstate 465 in northern Indianapolis, just a mile from the Colonial Hills Baptist Church where the passengers attended, striking a wall as it rounded a curve and overturned. The campers were returning from Camp CoBeAc in northern Michigan, approximately six hours away.
The church’s youth pastor sent a tweet just a couple hours before the crash saying the group was expected to arrive at the church at about 4:15 p.m., about the time the accident occurred.
“They were not far from home. That only adds to the tragedy,” said Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.
Two of the deceased included a husband and wife, Riggs said. Authorities did not provide information about the third victim.
Riggs and Mayor Greg Ballard visited the crash scene, where clothing, pillows and seat cushions from the bus were scattered along with at least two shattered windows, before they headed to the church. Riggs said there was no indication that the driver had a medical emergency and called the accident “a great tragedy.”
Ballard said investigators were taking measurements and examining the bus to determine the cause of the crash.
WTHR-TV reported the bus driver told witnesses his brakes failed. Indianapolis Fire Department Lt. Ato McTush said police and fire officials had not determined whether the church-owned bus, which was carrying 37 people, had mechanical issues.
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.
“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.”
Indianapolis Fire Department said crews had to free five people who were trapped inside after the crash. Several people stopped to help before first responders could arrive, including one man who helped pull the driver out of the bus, the department said.
“People were stopping their cars. People were literally trying to lift the bus,” Lloyd said. “You just try to do what you can do.”
Fire officials said the bus was carrying about 40 passengers and that the injured included children and adults. Many of the patients suffered head, arm and leg injuries, fire officials said.
Nine teenagers were taken to IU Health Methodist Hospital, including one in critical condition. Ten others, including nine teenagers and a toddler, were in stable condition at Riley Hospital for Children, a spokeswoman for the hospitals said.
It has not yet been determined whether the bus had mechanical failure or the crash was due to the bus driver’s recklessness. It is a tragedy that this accident was just one mile from returning to the church.
Feel free to contact one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).