Officials investigating a deadly crash that killed seven members of a university golf team have revealed a 13-year-old boy was driving the other vehicle that struck their van.
Six players from the University of the Southwest golf team and their 26-year-old coach Tyler James died in the collision in Texas on Wednesday.
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The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the students killed in the crash as Laci Stone, 18, Mauricio Sanchez, 19, Travis Garcia, 19, Jackson Zinn, 22, Karisa Raines, 21 and Tiago Sousa, 18.
In a horrific twist, National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg revealed on Thursday that a 13-year-old boy was driving the pickup truck that struck the golf team's van.
Although it was unclear how fast the two vehicles were traveling, “this was clearly a high-speed collision,” Landsberg said.
Drivers must be 14 in Texas to start taking classroom courses for a learner’s license, and 15 to receive that provisional license to drive with an instructor or licensed adult in the vehicle.
Department of Public Safety Sgt. Victor Taylor said a 13-year-old driving would be breaking the law.
The unidentified 13-year-old boy and 38-year-old passenger Henrich Siemens also died in the crash.
Landsberg said the truck driven by the 13-year-old blew a tire before crossing into the opposite lane of traffic on a west Texas highway and colliding head-on with the van transporting the USW golf team.
Tributes flow for students killed in horrific crash
The golfers were travelling to the USW campus in Hobbs, New Mexico after competing in a tournament in Texas.
Two Canadian students were also hospitalised in a critical condition.
“They are both stable and recovering and every day making more and more progress,” University of the Southwest Provost Ryan Tipton said on Thursday of the two injured students.
The brother of Hayden Underhill - one of the Canadian students - said their parents had flown to Texas.
“Hockey was a big part of life for a while, but his true passion is golf,” Drew Underhill said about his brother.
“From a small town in Ontario, he’s doing OK.”
The Mexican Federation of Golf posted an online note of condolence to the loved ones of Sanchez.
Sousa was from Portugal's southern coast, where he graduated from high school last summer before heading to college in the US.
"Any school would be delighted to have had him as a student,” said Renata Afonso, head of the Escola Secundária de Loulé.
Stone's mother wrote of her loss on Facebook on Wednesday.
“She has been an absolute ray of sunshine during this short time on earth,” Chelsi Stone said in a post.
“We will never be the same after this and we just don’t understand how this happened to our amazing, beautiful, smart, joyful girl.”
Team member Jasmin Collum had been scheduled to play but at the last minute decided instead to visit her parents in Houston, her mother said.
“We knew all those people on board,” Tonya Collum said. "Basically the whole team is gone or in the hospital.”
I'm shocked and saddened to learn about the tragic loss of life among the members of the University of the Southwest golf teams. My thoughts are with the grieving families and the entire USW community in Hobbs.
— Martin Heinrich (@MartinHeinrich) March 16, 2022
My heart goes out to the University of the Southwest and families of the golf students and coach killed in the horrific collision in West Texas. On their way to a tournament, you can imagine their excitement. Praying for the survivors and loved ones who will never be the same.
— Amy Lawrence (@ALawRadio) March 16, 2022
Anyone who has played college golf, traveling in a van with your teammates will have shuddered reading the devastating news about the University of the Southwest. So terribly sad, thoughts are with the families and those athletes dealing with such a shocking situation.
— Tom Abbott (@TomAbbottGC) March 17, 2022
Awful to hear the news of the University of the Southwest's golf teams being involving in a fatal bus crash
Such a sad and tragic loss after what was meant to be a fun, exciting trip.
My condolences to all
— Sir Nick Faldo (@NickFaldo006) March 16, 2022
If you've seen the awful news involving the University of the Southwest golf teams, here's a little way to help:
One member of the golf team, Dayton Price, has been airlifted to a nearby hospital. His family is raising money for medical expenses here:https://t.co/UGhiVoLONi
— Dylan Dethier (@dylan_dethier) March 16, 2022
Everyone at FirstPoint USA is shocked and saddened by the awful news involving students and staff from the University of the Southwest.
Our deepest condolences go out to the friends and families of everyone involved in yesterday's tragic accident ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Fz9bcF72JM
— FirstPoint USA (@firstpointusa) March 16, 2022
with Associated Press
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