Using DNA evidence, investigators have corrected the record and determined that a 13-year-old was not behind the wheel of a pickup truck that swerved into an oncoming van in Texas back in March, killing seven people on board — all members of a New Mexico university’s golf team.
The National Transportation Safety Board now says the teen was a passenger in the pickup and his father, Henrich Siemens, was the actual driver during the fiery crash 9 miles from Andrews, northwest of Midland-Odessa. The boy and his father were also killed in the March 15 collision.
Six students with the University of the Southwest’s golf teams and their coach were also killed. Two other students were critically injured in the crash.
"During an on-scene media briefing on March 17, the NTSB stated that the driver of the pickup truck that crashed into the transit van was the 13-year-old male, based on information available at the time," the NTSB said in a statement Thursday.
“In addition to the DNA test results identifying the father as the pickup truck driver, NTSB post-crash toxicological testing revealed the presence of methamphetamine in the pickup truck driver’s blood,” the statement said.
Robert Molloy, a transportation research analyst at the NTSB, told reporters Thursday that the error was made because the vehicles were so badly damaged and burnt.
"This was a team decision that at the time they believed the 13-year-old was driving," he said.
When asked if the NTSB had apologized to the family of the boy, Molloy said "they were made aware of this report coming out this morning and they can reach out to our family assistance team member for any question they have."
Tina Reimer, an aunt of the 13-year-old, told NBC News the family wants more.
"Along with this new report, an apology should’ve been issued to the family for the NTSB’s mistake that caused so much harm," she said. "Shame on the NTSB for not gathering facts before going to the public with their findings. With the family already suffering unimaginable loss, this initial false report made everything so much worse."
"We’re so very sorry for all the people that suffered the loss of loved ones in this accident. There are still no words to describe how devastating this situation is," Reimer added.
While the initial investigation indicated the front left tire of the pickup truck had blown out, causing the crash, an NTSB report released Thursday said there's no indication a tire failure led the pickup truck to swerve into the oncoming lane. But the crash is still under investigation.
In a statement the University of the Southwest thanked "investigators for their diligence."
"Their hard work continues to provide clarity for everyone impacted by this tragedy," the statement said. "As a Christ-centered educational community, we will continue to come together in faith and support of one another as we heal."