Two of the golfers survived the wreck and are in critical condition
The National Transportation Safety Board announced on Wednesday that it sent a “go-team” to Andrews, Texas to investigate a crash that killed nine people, including six University of the Southwest collegiate golfers and their head coach.
The NTSB said it is working with the Texas Department of Public Safety in its investigation.
The accident occurred on Tuesday evening around 8.17pm when a Ford pickup truck driving in the opposite direction of the USW team’s vehicle drifted over the centre line. The vehicles collided head on, and both caught fire.
Both the driver and passenger in the pickup truck were killed in the crash, according to Texas police.
Six golfers and their head coach, Tyler James, were also killed in the crash. Mr James was entering his first season as head coach for both the men and women’s teams at the university.
Two students survived the accident and were then life-flighted to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas. The two surviving students are currently in critical condition.
The family of one of the surviving students, Dayton Price, has established a GoFundMe to pay for their travel expenses to Texas and for hospital expenses. Mr Price’s family said in a statement that he has suffered third-degree burns over much of his body, and that doctors were working to stabilise his condition.
Mr Price moved from Canada to New Mexico to compete on USW’s golf team.
Texas Department of Public Safety Sargent Steve Blanco described the scene as “very, very tragic.”
Police have thus far only identified Mr James. USW issued a statement saying they were attempting to contact the families of the students involved in the accident.
The mother of one of the golfers, Chelsi Stone, confirmed that her daughter Laci Stone was among the students killed in the accident.
“Our Laci is gone. She has been an absolute ray of sunshine during this short time on earth,” her mother wrote. “We will never be the same after this and we just don’t understand how this happened.”
“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,” the university said in a statement.
According to USW, “counseling staff and the worship team will be available on campus today to provide support for students, faculty, and staff”.
Members of both the men’s and women’s golf teams were traveling back to New Mexico after competing at an event at Midland College in Texas when the accident occurred.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a statement expressing his condolences to the victims and their families on Wednesday.
“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,” he 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.”
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham also offered sympathies in a statement following reports of the crash.
“I am deeply saddened by news of a fatal crash involving students and staff from the University of the Southwest in Hobbs,” she wrote on Twitter. “This is a terrible, tragic accident. As we await additional information from authorities, my prayers are with the loved ones of all those involved.”