3 dead after bus carrying teens returning to church crashes in Indianapolis
(CNN) — A bus trip back to an Indianapolis church ended in tragedy Saturday afternoon with bloodied bodies, luggage strewn everywhere and three dead, in addition to at least 19 injured, after the vehicle flipped over.
The smashed bus teetered on a concrete barrier — with a young woman’s leg pinned between them, according to witnesses — as passengers spilled outside in various states of disarray and despair.
“I saw bodies everywhere, kids in shock and disbelief,” said John Murphy, who’d stopped along the northern Indianapolis road. “… There was a lot of blood. There was an awful lot of blood.”
Indianapolis police spokesman Michael Hewitt said, in addition to the three dead, two seriously injured were helicoptered from the crash scene, eight others were driven to local hospitals and nine others were treated and released on-site.
The bus — which was carrying about 40 passengers — is believed to be the only vehicle involved in the crash, according to Hewitt.
Having left from a camp in Michigan, the bus was about a mile from returning to a Baptist church in Indianapolis when it crashed, Mayor Greg Ballard said. Most of those on board were teenagers, according to fire department spokeswoman Rita Burris.
The driver told witnesses afterward that the vehicle’s brakes failed as he was trying to make a left turn, she said.
“Please pray for all involved,” the Indianapolis Fire Department tweeted.
Rose Vorenkamp was driving with Murphy, her fiancée, when she spotted the rolled-over bus and saw “people running” to help. Having been trained through her job in first aid and CPR, she moved closer and saw what she described as a girl trapped under the bus, bloodied passengers with head injuries and at least one person with a dislocated shoulder.
The fire department noted that four passers-by arrived first to help those affected by the accident, including one who helped pull the driver from the bus. It wasn’t clear whether Borenkamp was one of those, though Murphy said an off-duty nurse and an EMT were among those at the scene before fire trucks and ambulances arrived.
“What we saw was everybody pulled off to the side of the road, trying to help,” Murphy said. “They weren’t gawking. There were a lot of people … in tears.”
Those helping eventually were met soon by firefighters and crews from 12 ambulances and four helicopters.
Video from around 5:30 p.m. showed the bus on its side and on a road barrier while first responders massed nearby.
By then, traffic in the area had been shut down and all the casualties had been sent to local hospitals. Family members subsequently gathered at the church, Colonial Hills Baptist, where the bus had been heading.
The scene there was “remarkably positive, very sad, but at the same time very together,” said Ballard.
“Some of the teenagers are hurting very badly, you can see it in their faces,” the mayor said.
Some people at the church thanked him for visiting and generally appeared strong, Ballard added, surmising that “it’s very clear that they are being guided by their faith right now.”
Still, the mayor added, they might have some tough days ahead of them.
“The next few days are always very, very painful as they come out of the shock of it,” he said.