Church bus stolen, burned in Morgan County

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PARAGON, Ind. - A Morgan County church bus was stolen and found burning Monday afternoon. Now, police are trying to track down those responsible.

New Life Christian Church reported the bus stolen in the morning as a pastor prepared to take about 70 kids to a community pool. He soon realized their bus was missing.

"My mind was racing," said Pastor Rick Finney.

He said he was worried about transporting all the kids and the whereabouts of the bus the church members valued so much. Eventually, a friend called him with an update.

"She said 'I found your bus down by the river, it’s burned and it is still smoking," Finney said.

Police and fire crews arrived on the scene along Smokey Road. The bus was in a field, in the mud. Captain Brent Worth from the Morgan County Sheriff's Office says it is still unclear whether the fire was sparked by engine heat or flammables. The department has not released any suspect information yet.

"We are working some leads in the case," Worth said. "It is an active investigation. There are some people we are looking closely at. I suspect community will help us out with that quite a bit."

Despite the loss of the church bus, Finney said he has been blown away by people's willingness to help.  One couple even donated a school bus for the day to make sure kids could still make it to their church activities.

"We are a small community and we are a poor community," he said. "But when things like this happen, people come together."

A fundraising page has been set up to help the church pay for a replacement bus. The Paragon Fire Department is hosting a fundraising event for the church on June 25, according to Finney.

If you have any information about who may have stolen the bus, you're asked to contact the Morgan County Sheriff's Office at (765) 342-5544.

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