By Ethan Nichols, Staff Writer
A 13 year-old boy was driving a pickup truck when it collided with a van carrying a university golf team. The accident killed nine people in West Texas last Tuesday, including the golf coach, six players, the 13-year-old and an unidentified man in the truck.
At a press conference, Bruce Landsberg, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said that the truck was using a spare tire which blew out and caused the truck to swerve into the adjacent killing, resulting in a head-on collision with the van. Both vehicles went up in flames.
“It was very clearly a high-speed, head-on collision between two heavy vehicles,” Landsberg said. “There is no question about the force of impact.”
Officials are still unsure why the 13-year old boy was driving the truck with a 38-year-old man elsewhere in the trust.
The University of the Southwest identified the victims from the school as coach Tyler James, 26, and the student-athletes Travis Garcia, Karisa Raines, Mauricio Sanchez, Tiago Sousa, Laci Stone and Jackson Zinn. Most of the golfers were first-year students at the university, a private, Christian institution in Hobbs, N.M. Two additional golfers were critically injured and are undergoing medical treatment.
In a statement released Wednesday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said state officials were assisting with the investigation.
“We grieve with the loved ones of the individuals whose lives were horrifically taken too soon in this fatal vehicle crash near Andrews last night,” Abbott said.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham echoed Abbott’s comments, explaining “This is a terrible, tragic accident.”