NATIONAL NEWS

A 13-year-old was behind the wheel in Texas crash that killed nine people and left two University of the Southwest golfers critically injured

Mar 17, 2022, 3:13 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:17 pm
A golfer drives by a makeshift memorial at the Rockwind Community Links, Wednesday, March 16, 2022,...
A golfer drives by a makeshift memorial at the Rockwind Community Links, Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Hobbs, New Mexico. The memorial was for student golfers and the coach of University of the Southwest killed in a crash in Texas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)

(CNN) — A 13-year-old boy drove the pickup truck involved in a fiery head-on collision in Texas that killed nine people, including six University of the Southwest golfers and their coach, a National Transportation Safety Board official said Thursday.

Preliminary information indicates the left front tire of the pickup was a spare that failed, causing the vehicle to pull hard to the left into oncoming traffic of a two-lane roadway, NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg said.

Investigators were able to identify the remains of the driver by his size, Landsberg said. Both vehicles were probably moving close to the posted speed limit of 75 mph, he said.

Henrich Siemens, 38, of Seminole, Texas, was in the truck with the boy, authorities said. He was among the nine people killed in the Tuesday evening crash.

Two survivors of the crash, both students, are still hospitalized.

The survivors are recovering and making steady progress, University of the Southwest Provost Ryan Tipton said Thursday.

“One of the students is eating chicken soup,” Tipton told reporters. “I spoke with the parents and they are there with them and they are recovering every day. It’s a game of inches and every hour leads to them one step closer to another day… There is no indication as to how long it’s going to take but they are both stable and recovering and every day making more and more progress.”

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), a Dodge 2500 pickup drove into the approaching lane of a highway just outside Andrews, Texas, and hit a Ford Transit van carrying members of the New Mexico university’s men’s and women’s golf teams.

DPS Sgt. Steven Blanco said “the Dodge pickup drove into the northbound lane and struck the Ford passenger van head on.”

Six students and a coach in the van were killed as were the driver of the pickup and a passenger. Two other golfers were initially in critical condition at University Medical Center of Lubbock, Texas, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The National Transportation Safety Board sent a 12-member team to investigate. Spokesman Eric Weiss said Wednesday a fire consumed both vehicles after the “high-energy,” head-on collision.

Emergency responders heading to the crash were told by a dispatcher there were two vehicles on fire with people trapped inside, according to recordings on Broadcastify.com, which monitors radio traffic among many emergency departments.

One of the first responders to arrive said: “All units, I’ve got wrecked units on both sides of the highway, fully involved vehicles. I’m still trying to get up on scene and see what we have.”

Members of the men’s and women’s golf teams at the University of Southwest were traveling back to their Hobbs, New Mexico, campus from a tournament in Midland, Texas, school officials said.

The remainder of the two-day tournament, hosted by Midland College, was canceled. There were 11 schools in the competition, which included both men’s and women’s teams, Midland College Athletic Director Forrest Allen said.

The weather in the area of the crash was clear with no fog, CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers said. There were no freezing temperatures, and the wind was light at around 5 to 8 mph.

‘Crushed and broken but strong’

As investigators worked to determine what caused the deadly collision, the University of the Southwest is dealing with the emotional toll on its community.

“Our institution is crushed and broken but strong,” Paula Smith, the university’s vice president for financial services, said Thursday.

Many students at the small Christian university — with an enrollment of about 1,100 students, including about 300 on campus — will be returning from spring break over the weekend, and the school is planning a memorial assembly for next week, according to Tipton, the provost.

“These aren’t the kind of things that you ever even dream of happening. And they shouldn’t happen,” he said.

Tipton said officials have said they may never know what caused the pickup truck to veer into the van’s path.

“For any of you that have lost a loved one or a member of your family, it’s the same feeling here,” he said. “They’re not only students and coaches. They are loved ones to us. They are members of our family here on campus.”

One victim was Laci Stone, a freshman member of the women’s golf team who was majoring in global business management, according to a family member.

“Last night Laci’s golf team was involved in a crash leaving a golf tournament. Our sweet Laci didn’t make it.,” Laci’s mother, Chelsi Stone, posted on Facebook. “Our Laci is gone! She has been an absolute ray of sunshine during this short time on earth.”

Laci, 18, of Nocona, Texas, was one of three siblings.

“We will never be the same after this and we just don’t understand how this happened to our amazing, beautiful, smart, joyful girl,” her mother said.

The school identified the other students who died as Mauricio Sanchez, 19, of Mexico; Travis Garcia, 19, of Pleasanton, Texas; Jackson Zinn, 22, of Westminster, Colorado; Karisa Raines, 21, of Fort Stockton, Texas; and Tiago Sousa, 18, of Portugal.

USW President Quint Thurman confirmed the death of coach Tyler James, who was 26.

“Great coach and a wonderful man,” Thurman said in an email. “Don’t make them any better!”

James’ bio on the school website said he was in his first season as head coach and played golf at Ottawa University and Howard Payne University.

“He always cared for us and made sure we were always doing good on and off the golf course,” said freshman Phillip Lopez, who did not participate in the tournament.

“I just can’t believe that my teammates and my coach are gone,” Lopez told CNN.

Students Dayton Price, 19, of Mississauga, Ontario, and Hayden Underhill, 20, of Amherstview, Ontario, were hospitalized. GoFundMe fundraisers were started to help pay for victims’ funeral and medical expenses.

A memorial of flowers and golf balls has been set up at the teams’ home course, Rockwind Community Links in Hobbs, CNN affiliate KCBD reported.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the driver of the pickup. It was a 13-year-old child, according to the NTSB.


The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

U.S. Border Patrol office lobby....
Associated Press

Ex-Border Patrol agent convicted of killing 4 women in Texas

A former Border Patrol agent who confessed to killing four sex workers in 2018 has been convicted of capital murder. Juan David Ortiz receives an automatic sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole after prosecutors decided against seeking the death penalty. A jury in San Antonio convicted the 39-year-old Ortiz on Wednesday. Jurors heard a recording of Ortiz telling investigators that he killed the women because he wanted to "clean up the streets" of his South Texas hometown. The women's bodies were found along roads on the outskirts of Laredo in September 2018. Ortiz expressed disdain for sex workers in his confession.
17 hours ago
People holding signs outside of the New York Times....
ALEXANDRA OLSON AP Business Writer

New York Times journalists, other workers on 24-hour strike

Hundreds of New York Times journalists and other staff have walked off the job for 24 hours. They're frustrated by contract negotiations that have dragged on for months in the newspaper's biggest labor dispute in more than 40 years. Reporters, editors, photographers and other employees rallied outside the Times' offices. The newspaper relied on international staff and other non-union journalists to deliver content to its more than 9 million subscribers in the U.S. and other countries. In an email to the newsroom, Times Executive Editor Joe Kahn said Thursday's report would be "robust" but that producing it would be harder than usual.
17 hours ago
The Twitter headquarters signage as seen on 10th Street on November 4, 2022 in San Francisco, Calif...
MATT O'BRIEN AP Technology Writer

Women sue Musk’s Twitter alleging discriminatory layoffs

Two women who lost their jobs at Twitter when billionaire Elon Musk took over are suing the company in federal court, claiming that last month's abrupt mass layoffs disproportionately affected female employees. The discrimination lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal challenges over Musk's decimation of Twitter's workforce through mass layoffs and firings. Days after the world's richest man bought the social media platform for $44 billion, the company told about half of employees on Nov. 4 that they no longer had a job but would get three months severance.
17 hours ago
Anderson Lee Aldrich...
COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press

Case against Colo. shooter dropped for lack of cooperation

Authorities dropped a 2021 bomb threat case against the suspect in the Colorado Springs gay nightclub shooting after family members refused to cooperate. That's according to the district attorney, who held a news conference Thursday. El Paso County District Attorney Michael Allen also said that Anderson Lee Aldrich tried to reclaim guns that were seized after the threat, but authorities did not return the weapons. Allen spoke hours after a judge unsealed the case, which indicated that Aldrich threatened to kill relatives and to become the "next mass killer" more than a year before the nightclub attack that killed five people.
17 hours ago
A woman is pushing a patient bed through a hospital hallway....
Deidre McPhillips, CNN

Hospitals in the US are the fullest they’ve been throughout the pandemic — but it’s not just COVID-19

(CNN) — Hospitals are more full than they’ve been throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. But as respiratory virus season surges across the US, it’s much more than Covid that’s filling beds this year. More than 80% of hospital beds are […]
17 hours ago
Two women are signing banknotes....
Betsy Klein, CNN

Yellen sees her signature printed on US bills for the first time

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen traveled to Texas Thursday to mark an important and historic milestone, touring the Fort Worth Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility to observe firsthand the printing of $1 and $5 bills with her signature for the first time.
17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
A 13-year-old was behind the wheel in Texas crash that killed nine people and left two University of the Southwest golfers critically injured