A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman confirmed this week that a 13-year-old was driving the pickup truck involved in a fatal car crash that left nine people dead, including six college golf teammates from the University of the Southwest and the team’s head coach.
A van carrying members of the golf team leaving Midland College crashed with a Ford pickup truck in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday night, KOAT Action News reported.
The driver of the pickup truck, who has now been identified as a 13-year-old, “crossed the median into the northbound lane” and crashed into the university’s van, the report said.
TXDPS Troopers say the pickup truck was traveling southbound on FM 1788 and crossed the median into the northbound lane. After the truck crossed the median it crashed into the van from the University of the Southwest. Both vehicles caught fire shortly after the crash. The team was traveling back to Hobbs from a golf tournament in Midland, TX.
The truck’s left front tire blew out before impact, according to National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg, the report detailed.
“A Dodge 2500 pickup was traveling southbound on FM 1788. A Ford Transit passenger van registered to the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, NM was traveling northbound on FM 1788,” the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement earlier this week, The Daily Wire reported.
“For unknown reasons, the Dodge pickup drove into the northbound lane and struck the Ford passenger van head on,” DPS Sgt. Steven Blanco said. “Both vehicles caught fire and burned.”
The child who was driving, whose name has not been disclosed, was breaking Texas law by driving underage. He was driving with a 38-year-old man identified as Heinrich Siemens. Both died in the crash.
“We are still learning the details about the accident but we are devastated and deeply saddened to learn about the loss of our students’ lives and their coach,” University of the Southwest President Quint Thurman said in a statement, reacting to the tragedy. “My understanding is that two of our students have survived and have been airlifted to University hospital in Lubbock with serious injuries. We would ask for prayers for their recovery and for comfort and strength for all of families and friends and students of those whose lives have been lost.”
“We extend our condolences to the USW family,” Midland College President Dr. Steve Thomas said. “This is a devastating loss to that school, and words cannot express how deeply hurt we feel for their loss. I have ordered the MC flag to fly at half-staff through Friday to honor the memories of Coach Tyler James and his team.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety is currently investigating the wreck, and the National Transportation Safety Board will be providing assistance.
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