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9 dead after crash involving New Mexico university’s golf teams in West Texas

A pickup and a van carrying members of the University of the Southwest's men's and women's golf teams collided, officials said. Six students and their coach were among those killed.
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Six students and their coach were killed, along with two other people, when a van carrying members of a New Mexico university’s golf teams collided with a pickup Tuesday night in West Texas, officials said.

Two other students were critically injured in the crash involving members of the University of the Southwest’s golf teams, the school said.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Steven Blanco said the collision happened at 8:17 p.m. on a two-lane road about 9 miles from Andrews, northwest of Midland-Odessa.

"For unknown reasons, the Dodge pickup drove into the northbound lane and struck the Ford passenger van head on. Both vehicles caught fire and burned," the agency said Wednesday in a statement.

Both vehicles burned, the statement said. The two people in the pickup were killed.

The department identified the fatally injured coach and team members Wednesday as Tyler James, 26; Mauricio Sanchez, 19; Travis Garcia, 19; Jackson Zinn, 22; Karisa Raines, 21; Laci Stone, 18; and Tiago Sousa, 18. A biography on the school’s athletics site said James was in his first season as the coach of the men’s and women’s golf program.

Dayton Price, 19, and Hayden Underhill, 20, the two other people in the van, were listed in critical condition.

A 38-year-old man, Henrich Siemens, and a 13-year-old boy, who were in the truck, were also killed. The National Transportation Safety Board revealed Thursday that the 13-year-old, who has not been identified, was driving.

The university-owned Ford passenger van was transporting the teams from a golf tournament in West Texas, Blanco said at the scene, according to video from NBC affiliate KWES of Midland.

“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,” Southwest President Quint Thurman said in a statement.

The crash is being investigated by the Texas Highway Patrol with assistance from the National Transportation Safety Board.

"USW is coordinating with Texas DPS to assist with the investigation and public information efforts," the university said in a statement. "University administration is communicating with families of the students and coaching staff to provide more information as it becomes available."

The university's website listed events for both golf teams at Midland College on Tuesday. A post on the school's athletics Instagram account said they would be competing in the TankLogix Collegiate.

In a statement, Midland College golf coach Walt Williams wrote that James was a "friend and a colleague and will be greatly missed."

"Very tragic, very sad," he said. "He was a wonderful young man and was already building a nice program at USW."

Williams said that the final round of the tournament was canceled and that the only part of the scoreboard that was left up were the scores from the University of the Southwest teams "in honor of these great young people and their coach."