Three teens were killed and 10 others injured when a church van from Johnson County skidded off the roadway after its rear tire blew out late Friday morning on Missouri 13.
The van, carrying 11 children and two church chaperones from Faith Chapel Assembly of God, was heading southbound on the way to a weekend floating trip when, shortly before 10:30 a.m., it left the highway, overturned and struck a tree about five miles north of Bolivar.
The three teens who died were ejected from the van, according to the Polk County coroner. They were David Martin, 16, of Olathe, Hannah Foy, 14, of Louisburg, and Samara Bayse 17, of Stillwell, according to a Missouri Highway Patrol report.
The teens were pronounced dead at the scene.
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“The tire had blown out and that’s what caused it,” said Melissa Britton, the Polk County coroner. “He (the driver) was keeping it on the road, but the trailer the van was pulling started to fishtail, and the momentum carried them off the road.”
The driver of the car was identified as Bradley Bailey, 34, of Shawnee. Bradley, a youth pastor with Faith Chapel Assembly, had moderate injuries. He and six minors were released from Citizens Memorial Hospital by early Friday evening, said Wren Hall, a hospital spokeswoman.
Three passengers, one adult and two minors, were rushed to a Springfield hospital with serious injuries. One of those had to be airlifted, Britton said.
Britton said the van, a 2001 GMC G3500 model, was near an embankment. It rolled and then slammed into a tree.
The youth group was traveling in a caravan for a weekend of canoeing. Behind the van were two vehicles, including a minivan, with other members of the church and more children.
“There were witnesses with the same church group that saw it,” Britton said. “They saw the tire blow and everything.”
A couple of the passengers involved in the crash were trapped under the van, she said, “and it had to be lifted up off them.”
It isn’t known how many were wearing a seat belt.
“The wife of the gentleman who was driving the (church) van, she was driving the minivan,” Britton said. “She’s actually a nurse, and as soon as it happened, she got out and was triaging and she was helping. She did amazing. She got out and did what she was destined to do.”
Faith Chapel Assembly of God has three locations — in Overland Park and Gardner in Johnson County and Louisburg in Miami County.
Officials at the national office for the Assemblies of God church in Springfield were notified about an hour after the crash, said spokesman Mark Forrester.
“A few members of our executive team have been offering support to family and praying with the victims,” Forrester said. “Our southern Missouri district members have been on hand with families and offering support in any way that they could.”
Youth from all three Faith Chapel locations were reportedly on the trip.
“These families desperately need our love and prayers,” Alesa Miller wrote on Facebook. Her husband is pastor at Lighthouse Worship Center, an Assembly of God church in Greensburg, Kan., and a sister church of Faith Chapel in Overland Park. She asked people to pray for the three Faith Chapel locations, the pastors and everyone involved.
“We’ve been in touch with all the pastors and once they know what they need most we will inform the Network how to best love on and assist in this heartbreaking reality! I’m so thankful we are family and can surround those that are so traumatized. HE IS OUR HOPE AND COMFORT!”
On Thursday, Kasey Detherage, the wife of the youth pastor at the Louisburg location, had posted on Facebook about the upcoming float trip. By Friday afternoon, after news of the crash had spread, people were adding to her thread.
“We’re praying for you all,” one woman wrote in the first comment, at roughly 1:30 p.m.
Detherage responded: “... thank you so much!! All prayers welcome!! HE is in control right now!”
“My heart is breaking,” one woman posted. “We are here for you, Faith Chapel.”
Bolivar is about 25 miles north of Springfield.