NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Seven people with the Hobbs-based University of the Southwest’s men’s and women’s golf teams have died and two others are in critical condition after a fiery crash in West Texas. Federal authorities with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are now investigating the deadly crash, which happened on a two-lane road near Andrews, Texas.
In total, nine people died in the crash, while two others, USW students Dayton Price and Hayden Underhill have severe injuries. Texas law enforcement officials released the names of the deceased victims Wednesday. On the USW team bus, Coach Tyler James, 26, Mauricio Sanchez, 19, Travis Garcia, 19, Jackson Zinn, 22, Karisa Raines, 21, Laci Stone, 18, and Tiago Sousa, 18, died in the crash. In the pickup truck, Heinrich Siemens, 38 and a 13-year old passenger were killed.
Of the victims, Coach Tyler James of Hobbs was the only victim from New Mexico. Most of the group is from Texas, while other are from Colorado, Mexico, Portugal and Canada.
NTSB officials say nine people were on board the University of the SW team van, including eight players and a team coach. The team bus, a 2017 Ford Transit Van, was also towing a box trailer.
NTSB investigators say their preliminary investigation indicates the team van was traveling north on Farm to Market Road 1788 (FM 1788) in Andrews County, Texas. Around 8:17 p.m. CDT Tuesday, the van was struck by a 2007 Dodge 2500 pick-up truck in a head-on collision. Investigators say there was a fire after the crash involving both vehicles.
“As the two vehicles approached each other, the Dodge veered into the travel lane and the collided with the Ford Van,” said Eric Weiss, Chief of Media Relations for the NTSB. “The collision was head-on and offset to the left.”
Texas Department of Public Safety officials said Wednesday 38-year old Henrich Siemens of Seminole, Texas was driving the pickup truck with an unidentified 13-year old passenger. University of the Southwest officials confirmed Tuesday the golf teams were traveling back from a tournament that took place in Midland, Texas.
Federal authorities say the crash happened on a two-lane, two-way asphalt roadway with a posted speed limit of 75 miles per hour. Iinvestigators are still looking into if speed, reckless driving or alcohol were factors in the crash. A preliminary report on the crash could be available in two weeks to a month, while a full investigation explaining why the crash happened and ways to prevent similar crashes could take 1.5 to 2 years, according to the NTSB.
In a statement posted to Facebook Wednesday, the University of the Southwest said the campus community is “shocked and saddened today,” as it mourns the loss of members of the University family.
“The USW campus community is shocked and saddened today as we mourn the loss of members of our university family. Last night, the men’s and women’s golf teams were traveling back to campus from competition in Midland, Texas, when their bus was struck by oncoming traffic. Nine passengers, including the coach, were on the university bus involved in the fatal accident. While the accident investigation is still underway, reports indicate that seven passengers aboard the bus were killed in the crash. Two of the passengers are in critical condition undergoing medical treatment in Lubbock, Texas. USW is coordinating with Texas DPS to assist with the investigation and public information efforts. University administration is communicating with families of the students and coaching staff to provide more information as it becomes available.”University of the Southwest Statement, March 16, 2022
NTSB investigators did not have any further updates on the two passengers in the University of the SW van who were critically injured in the crash. At last update, the university said two people were being treated for injuries at a Lubbock hospital.
The NTSB says a team of 12 investigators are now looking into the crash. Wednesday, a spokesman said a further press briefing is expected to take place Thursday.
This is a development news story. KRQE News 13 will have more coverage on this story Wednesday on KRQE News 13 at 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.