13-year-old among dead ID’d in crash involving school golf team


(NewsNation) — Nine people died in a fiery, head-on collision in West Texas, including students and a coach from a New Mexico university who were returning home from a golf tournament, authorities said.

A pickup truck crossed the center line of a two-lane road in Andrews County, about 30 miles east of the New Mexico state line on Tuesday evening, said Sgt. Steven Blanco of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The crash involved a bus carrying members of the University of the Southwest’s men’s and women’s golf teams, the university confirmed Wednesday.

Nine passengers, including the coach, were on the university bus involved in the fatal accident. Two of the passengers are in critical condition undergoing medical treatment in Lubbock, Texas. 

The passenger and driver of the pickup were also killed.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Blanco said the crash happened around 8:17 p.m. on a two-lane road about 9 miles from the city of Andrews.

The bus was returning from a golf tournament in the West Texas area, Blanco said.

“It’s a very tragic scene,” he said. “It’s very, very tragic.”

Texas Department of Public Safety identified the deceased as:

  • 13-year-old male from Seminole, Texas.
  • Henrich Siemens, 38, of Seminole, Texas.
  • Tyler James, 26, of Hobbs, New Mexico.
  • Mauricio Sanchez, 19, of Mexico.
  • Travis Garcia, 19, of Pleasanton, Texas.
  • Jackson Zinnm, 22, of Westminster, Colorado.
  • Karisa Raines, 21, of Fort Stockton, Texas.
  • Laci Stone, 18, of Nocona, Texas.
  • Tiago Sousa, 18, of Portugal.

University of the Southwest President Quint Thurman said in a statement that James coached the men’s and women’s golf team.

“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,” Thurman said, adding that two students had been airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries. Their names have been released as Dayton Price, 19, and 20-year-old Hayden Underhill. Price’s body, according to a GoFundMe page created for him, has third-degree burns.

Both Price and Underhill are undergoing medical treatment in Lubbock and making steady progress, Ryan Tipton, the University of the Southwest’s dean of the College of Business Administration, said. On Thursday, the university president was also in Lubbock with the students’ families, Tipton added.

“We are a family of Mustangs,” Tipton said at a press conference. “When one of us is hurting, all of us are hurting. That’s what we’re going through right now.”

Arrangements to memorialize the students and coach who died will be made when other USW students get back from their spring break, which was this past week, Tipton said.

Police say the cause of the crash is under investigation.

Laci Stone’s mother, Chelsi, remembered her daughter as an “absolute ray of sunshine” during her short time on Earth in a Facebook status.

The two got matching tattoos before Laci went to college.

Residents of Hobbs, where the University of the Southwest is located, were in mourning Thursday.

“We’re here every day and they’re here every day, so we see him every day and they grew up here, so it’s tough,” Ben Kirkes, head golf professional at Rockwind Community golf course, said.

Hobbs’ communications director, Meghan Mooney, a University of the Southwest alum herself, said seeing “what those kids represent and how they handle themselves and what an honor it is to play with them” made their deaths cut that much deeper.

“This is our town. These are our students. This is our community and they’re ingrained within us. We love them and so when something happens to them, this happens to us too,” local pastor Jotty Kinney, of Christian Center Church, said.

Neighboring universities are grieving as well.

“You know you send your kid off to college, in this case to play golf, and you never dream of something like this happening,” Rob Giovannetti, senior associate athletics director at Texas Tech University, said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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