According to NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg, a 13-year-old boy was behind the wheel of the 2007 Dodge 2500 pickup when it crashed head-on into the 2017 Ford Transit van, towing a 2019 Salvation 8-foot box trailer, being driven by University of the Southwest Mustang golf team coach, Tyler James.
Noting that if the driver of the pickup was the 13 year old, Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Victor Taylor said it would have been breaking the law. In Texas the minimum age to begin the classroom courses for a learner’s permit is 14, and the minimum age for receiving a provisional license is 15, he said.
Landsberg also said the pickup’s left front tire, that was also a spare tire, blew out before the crash. The truck veered into the van head on. After the crash, fire engulfed both vehicles, authorities said.
Several of the students in the van were not wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash and one of the van’s passengers was ejected from the vehicle, Landsberg said. And, although he said it was unclear how fast both vehicles were traveling, “this was clearly a high-speed collision,” Landsberg said.
In response to the NTSB report, USW Marketing and Stakeholder Relations Director Maria Duarte released a statement stating, “This is the first we hear about the NTSB statement while everyone else has. We have no comment as this is still an ongoing investigation. If you have questions about the statement released by NTSB, please get in touch with NTSB directly or Texas DPS.”
Six members of the USW Mustang golf team and their coach, James, were killed Tuesday when the crash occurred on a stretch of Farm to Market Road 1788 about nine miles east of Andrews, Texas. The team was returning from the first day of a golf tournament in Midland, Texas.
Those killed in the crash include USW students Jackson Zinn, 22, of Westminster, Colo.; Tiago Sousa, 18, of Portugal; Mauricio Sanchez, 19, of Mexico; Travis Garcia,19, of Pleasanton, Texas; Karisa Raines, 21, of Fort Stockton, Texas; and Laci Stone, 18, of Nocona, Texas; and golf coach Tyler James.
The two occupants of the pickup, 38 year old Henrich Siemens, of Seminole, Texas and a 13-year-old male also died in the crash. Underhill and Price, both of Ontario, Canada were flown to a hospital in critical condition in Lubbock, Texas.