What was supposed to be a fun end-of-summer trip for a local church youth group turned tragic on Friday.
Three teenagers who were on a church van from Overland Park died after it crashed.
The crash happened at about 10:40 a.m. on Highway 13 about 5 miles north of Bolivar. There, the left rear tire blew out causing the van to skid off the road, overturn and hit a tree.
According to Sgt. John Lueckenhoff with the MSHP 11 teenagers and two adults were in a Faith Chapel Assembly of God van when the crash happened.
Three teenagers were killed, three people were seriously injured, and seven people sustained injuries that were not serious.
The deceased are identified as 16-year-old David Martin from Olathe, a 17-year-old Samara Bayse from Stilwell, and a 14-year-old Hannah Foy from Louisburg.
One of the adults was driving.
For the church, it's been a weekend of sadness and community.
"Everyone is pulling together," Pastor Bob Cave said. "We're all broken up and devastated by the loss."
Pastors Bob Cave and Sondra Cave have led the church for more than 25 years. They've watched many of the teens in their youth group grow up.
"They led the way," Sondra Cave said of the three teens who died. "If you knew them, you knew where they stood spiritually."
Faith Chapel Assembly of God church is located at 151st and 69 Highway in Overland Park, but also serves Gardner and Louisburg.
The church has placed three T-shirts for the three teens who died outside people have been placing flowers and notes of encouragement for their families.
The church website said they were headed on a three-day youth float trip to the Ozarks. The church newsletter said they were heading to the Current River.
The church secretary said the head pastor and his wife left the church the minute he heard the news in order to be with the survivors and loved ones down in Bolivar and in Springfield, where those who were most hurt were taken for treatment at the hospital.Many in the church community just wanted to be together on Saturday night, so they held a prayer service.
The church opened its doors for anyone who wanted to come pray.
Three t-shirts stood outside the church in memory of the young lives lost.
As people in the congregation comforted each other, other churches were offering their support.
“We're just going to pray for Faith Chapel, that community,” said Bobby Hawk, the lead pastor at Epic Church in Independence. “We're going to pray for Bob and Sondra.”
Hawk’s church is part of the same Assembly of God denomination as Faith Chapel. He remembers meeting the pastors at a workshop.
“We just want to pray, because we do believe that, while we don't have all the answers, we have the answer of hope,” Hawk said.
The pastors started an online fundraiser to help with funeral costs for the three teenagers who died and medical expenses for others injured in the crash.
Hawk said his congregation will pray for the church on Sunday morning and offer its support, too.
“We'll help however we can,” he said. “The state line doesn't matter. The denominational line doesn't matter. It's a church community and we're all part of that community of believers.”
Faith Chapel said they will hold their normal service on Sunday morning.
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