UPDATE: 13-year-old was driving truck that initiated fatal crash involving Christian university’s golf teams

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Late Thursday, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that a 13-year-old boy had been driving a pickup truck that veered into oncoming traffic and collided with a passenger van.  It was a crash that resulted in the death of nine people, including six student athletes and a coach.

The accident occurred Tuesday evening in rural West Texas when, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety and University of the Southwest, which is located in Hobbs, New Mexico, a Dodge pickup collided with a Ford passenger van that carried members of the university’s men’s and women’s golf teams. The crash caused both vehicles to become engulfed in flames.

The golf teams’ coach and six athletes were killed, as were the 13-year-old driver and an adult male passenger of the pickup.

NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg did not offer an estimate of how fast the vehicles were traveling but said the collision would have occurred at high speeds.

Two student athletes survived the crash and remain in critical condition at a Lubbock, Texas, hospital. University of the Southwest Provost Ryan Tipton said during a press conference that the pair’s survival was “a game of inches” but offered some hope that both would improve.

“They are both stable and recovering and every day making more and more progress,” Tipton said. “One of the students is eating chicken soup.”

Tipton, University president Quint Thurman, and the golfers’ families are all in Lubbock. 

According to DPS, the vehicles were traveling in opposite directions on a farm-to-market highway in Andrews County in rural West Texas, and the force of impact caused a fire that quickly engulfed both vehicles.

“For unknown reasons, the Dodge pickup drove into the northbound lane and struck the Ford passenger van head on,” DPS Sgt. Steven Blanco told CNN. “Both vehicles caught fire and burned.”

“My sincere condolences go out to everyone involved in this fatal accident that occurred last night,” USM athletic director Steve Appel said. “This will be a huge hurdle that we will all have to overcome, and it will be a difficult time for many.

“USW is a tight-knit family, and I am confident we will work together to get through this. We have amazing people and students here, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else to get through something like this.”

University of the Southwest was founded in 1956 and is affiliated with the Baptist Faith. The school’s total enrollment is 1,000 students.

USW’s sports teams compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and Red River Athletic Conference, and the golf teams were returning from a tournament at Midland College.

“I am deeply saddened by news of a fatal crash involving students and staff from the University of the Southwest in Hobbs,” New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham tweeted. “This is a terrible, tragic accident.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also offered his condolences.

“We grieve with the loved ones of the individuals whose lives were horrifically taken too soon in this fatal vehicle crash near Andrews last night,” Abbott said. “The Texas Department of Public Safety is working closely with local officials to investigate this accident, and we offer our full support to the University of the Southwest and the state of New Mexico. I ask Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for the families of those whose lives were lost and for the recovery of two critically injured students.”

USW has set up a donation page as means of raising money for the victims and their families.