Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
Tragedy struck a small Christian university Tuesday night when six student athletes and a coach died as the result of a fiery crash that claimed a total of nine lives near Midland, Texas.
Both the Texas Department of Public Safety and the University of the Southwest (USW), which is located in Hobbs, New Mexico, confirmed that at about 8 p.m. CST Tuesday, a Dodge pickup collided with a Ford passenger van that carried the university’s men’s and women’s golf teams.
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.”
Both passengers in the truck were killed as were seven people in the USW van, including first-year coach Tyler James. Two other passengers from the van were transported to a Lubbock, Texas, hospital in critical condition.
“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.”
— USW Athletics (@USWAthletics) March 16, 2022
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.