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Sister church mourns loss of teen in crash

GARLAND, Texas (BP)–Michelle Chaney was the only one of four teens who died in the Metro Church of Garland bus crash June 24 who was not a member of the church. Chaney, 14, attended Sunday school at Arapaho Road Baptist Church in Garland.

She decided only the night before the trip to join the youth at Metro Church for camp in Louisiana.

“A friend called her Sunday night and said that they had one scholarship left, so Michelle agreed to go and stayed up late that night packing,” said Angie Buchsbaum, Chaney’s Sunday school teacher at Arapaho Road.

Chaney was not an official member of the church, but she had attended Sunday school for about two years. Buchsbaum said that Chaney, a recent graduate of Sam Houston Middle School in Garland, had been a regular attender in 7th grade but had not come as much during her 8th grade year. She told her mother that she wanted to attend church regularly when she returned from camp.

Diane Hokanson, secretary at Arapaho Road, said that Chaney’s mother was the first of all parents to hear of the death of her child.

Gina Camp, the wife of Metro’s pastor Scott Camp, broke the news to Mrs. Chaney that her daughter had died.

“Michelle’s aunt was in the hallway and received a phone call confirming that she had died,” Camp said. “She said ‘Please, help me. I’ve got to tell my sister. What do I do?'”

Camp said she brought Chaney and several other family members into a private room inside the church. “She looked at me and she said, ‘What does this mean? Does this mean my daughter is dead?’ I told her I was so sorry.”

Chaney, distraught with grief, collapsed and passed out. Paramedics were summoned to the church and administered assistance.

Buchsbaum visited the Chaney family at their home Monday night.

“Mrs. Chaney was on the floor, crying, ‘Why did I let my baby go?'” Buchsbaum said. “It was horror. It was absolute raw emotion.”

Hokanson brought light to the situation with news of Chaney’s relationship with Jesus Christ.

“We do know that Michelle made a profession of faith at a preteen camp she attended with Arapaho in the past,” Hokanson said. “She was so happy with that experience that she wanted to go with Metro on this trip.”

“She was excited. She said she would call when she got back,” Amanda McCourge, 13, one of Michelle’s close friends, told the Dallas Morning News. “She’s always been a good friend. She was just a very good person.”

A funeral service for Chaney is scheduled for 1 p.m. Thursday at Arapaho Road Baptist Church. The church is serving meals to the Chaney family all week, and will host a meal at the church before the funeral service. The church has also set up a contribution fund for the family.

“This is very tragic,” Hokanson said. “I just remember that those kids were going to camp expecting to experience God. Now that this has happened, they’re experiencing God but in a little different way than they expected.”

Bill Ashburn, senior pastor at Arapaho Road, expressed his sympathy for the Chaney family.

“Michelle Chaney was a sweet girl involved in many of our children’s and preteen ministries including our camps and Sunday school musicals,” Ashburn said. “Our hearts go out to the Chaney family and the other families hurt in this tragedy. We pray that God will bring something positive out of this tragic event. We feel the Chaneys’ pain, and our plan is to be ready to minister to the families wherever we are needed.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: MICHELLE CHANEY.

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  • Erin Curry