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Three people killed in crash involving Miller Transport bus in Monroe County identified

Posted at 4:33 PM, Jul 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-24 23:31:55-04

MONROE COUNTY, Ind. -- Three people from Greenwood were killed in a crash involving a bus and four other vehicles in Monroe County Saturday afternoon. 

The crash happened around 2 p.m. near the intersection of U.S. 37 and Old 37 N. 

According to Monroe County Sheriff Brad Swain, a Miller Transport bus ran into the back of a mini van that was stopped in construction traffic, causing a chain reaction crash. A man and two women inside the minivan were all pronounced dead at the scene.

The Monroe County Coroner has identified the victims as Rose Pettus, 54, Shante Lewis, 30 and Orlando Lewis Jr., 30, all from Greenwood. A toddler in the van was taken to the hospital but is expected to survive. 

Autopsies are scheduled for Tuesday in Terre Haute. 

Marica White, Shante's best friend, said the two went to high school and church together.

"I text Shante she usually immediately texts me back. When she didn't text me back I said something is wrong," said White. "I just broke down and started crying and it's been a whirlwind of emotion since then. She had a very loving and inviting personality. She was very goofy so we just clicked and just always remained best friends.

White said Rose, Shante's mother also killed in the crash, was like a second mother and CJ was a loyal partner.

"I called her mom mama Rose - she would always have an encouraging word," said White. (CJ) was very supportive and was always there for Shante. Whenever you saw mama Rose and Shante - CJ was never far away."

Upper left - Rose Pettus, upper right - Orlando Lewis Jr,  lower right - Shante Lewis. Toddler who survived crash is in Rose's arms

Sheriff Swain said the force of the crash pushed the van into a sedan, the sedan was pushed into a jeep and the jeep was pushed into another car that went off the road. The driver of one of those other vehicles was taken to the hospital to be treated for a head injury. No other injuries were reported. 

The bus driver will be taken for a mandatory blood draw which is standard with any crash of this type, according to Sheriff Swain. 

"I heard the screech and the bang of a horrific crash and just sat there to myself for a second and questioned what I saw and then called 911 and walked up on the scene," said witness Ryan Short. 

Shante and CJ each also had two children from previous relationships, leaving three children without parents.

"The children really need prayer. Its a whirlwind of emotion," said White. "To not wake up with the people you've lived with your whole life it's going to be hard."

Miller Transportation released the following statement about the crash: 

A tragic accident occurred on Saturday involving several vehicles, including a Miller Transportation Bus. The bus was headed from Chicago to Louisville when the accident took place in Bloomington, IN.

Unfortunately, it appears there were fatalities as a result of this accident. We are greatly saddened for this loss of life and offer our heartfelt condolences and prayers to the families and all those impacted by this accident.

We pledge our assistance in cooperating with local authorities in the investigation.

The crash remains under investigation by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department. 

The family continues to collect donations from the public to support memorial services.

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