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Indianapolis crash victims had Concord, NH ties

New Hampshire Union Leader

July 28. 2013 9:18PM

A youth pastor and his pregnant wife killed in a bus rollover Saturday in Indianapolis had strong ties to New Hampshire.

Youth Pastor Chad Phelps, his pregnant wife Courtney Phelps, a piano teacher, and a third person, identified as Tonya Weindorf of Indianapolis, were killed when the bus they were on overturned just a mile from its destination. The three victims and 34 other passengers, all members of Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Indianapolis, Ind., were returning from a church camp in northern Michigan.

Phelps is the son of Pastor Charles Phelps, who served as the pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Concord for 18 years.

"Chad was a great leader, and an excellent preacher," said current Trinity Baptist Church Pastor Brian Fuller. "We were all surprised and saddened when we heard about the accident. Our prayers and thoughts are of course with the Phelps family, as well as the woman killed and those injured, and that entire church community."

The crash occurred Saturday afternoon near Interstate 465 in Indianapolis, injuring dozens. Seven teens were still hospitalized Sunday, including one in critical condition, according to Colonial Baptist Church Deacon Jeff Leffew. Published reports state that the bus driver, identified as Dennis Maurer, 68, and a member of the congregation, told Indianapolis metro police the brakes on the bus failed just before it hit a concrete median and rolled onto its side.

Chad Phelps, whose father Charles is currently the senior pastor at Colonial Hills Baptist Church, and his wife were both in their mid-20s, Leffew said, and were expecting their second child next month. The Phelps' first child, Chase, almost 2 years old, was injured during the crash, but was treated and released from a hospital Saturday, said Leffew.

Chad Phelps started as a youth pastor at Colonial Hills in late 2012, he said. The church's website list Chad's interests as "spending time with his family, reading, and following sports, particularly basketball, baseball, and football."

Pastor Fuller said Chad Phelps was a graduate of Trinity Christian School, who served as a pastoral intern at Trinity Baptist Church in 2008.

"Chad was a special kid," said Fuller. "I had the privilege to be Chad's youth pastor for six years. He had a great sense of humor, and liked to perform practical jokes on people whenever he could. He had a great love for God and others. His father had gone out to Indianapolis to become the pastor there, and Chad followed him last year."

Fuller said a special moment of prayer was held Sunday morning at Trinity Baptist Church for the victims of the crash.

"As more people hear about it, there are many that are still just beginning to grieve," said Fuller. "Our prayers are with all touched by this tragedy."

Authorities are still investigating the crash. The bus was nearly finished with a 365-mile journey, overturning just a mile from the church.

Weindorf, 51, had five children, Leffew said.

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