BOLIVAR, Mo. -- Three people died and 10 others were hurt when a van affiliated with Faith Chapel Assembly of God crashed on Friday morning on U.S. Highway 13, five miles north of Bolivar.
According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the van left the southbound lanes of the highway and overturned, injuring everyone on board. Troopers say a left rear tire blowout caused the crash as youth groups from Overland Park, Louisburg, and Gardner, Kansas headed to Southern Missouri for a float trip.
Victims have been identified as Hannah Foy of Louisburg, 14, David Martin of Olathe, 16, and Samara Bayse of Stillwell, 17.
The driver and front seat passenger were adults, everyone else on board was a minor. Three others have serious injuries and seven others have injuries they're expected to recover from.
A man who asked only to be identified as Matt, was one of several people who tried to help victims in the crash. He says when he noticed the vehicle, two girls were pinned underneath. He ran to his vehicle to get a jack so first responders could free one of the girls and get her airlifted to the hospital. He says he then worked with the Polk County Sheriff and others to tip the van off of another victim.
“Today I would rather have been nowhere else than to be there to try to help and assist. I can not imagine the emotional stress and devastation for such an unnatural event to happen to a parent to lose their kids, I just ask that people’s prayers be with the parents," Matt said.
No vigil was planned Friday night because so many people were travelling to Springfield-area hospitals to be with the victims. But the church’s parking lot started filling up with dozens of people showing their support.
“These are all kids that we’ve known since they were babies and even some of the adults I’ve known since they were just young teenagers, so everybody is at a loss what to do, where to go, how to help," Lynn Ross, a 30-year Faith Chapel member said. “All we can do is hang together like we always do, as a family and trust the Lord to take care of the families.”