Photo: The Canadian Press
FILE – A golfer drives by a makeshift memorial at the Rockwind Community Links, on March 16, 2022, in Hobbs, New Mexico. The memorial was for student golfers and the coach of University of the Southwest killed in a crash in Texas. The father of a 13-year-old boy, not the teen, was driving a pickup that struck the team’s van federal officials said on Thursday, July 14. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
A Texas man, not his 13-year-old son, was driving the pickup truck that crossed into the oncoming lane and struck a van carrying New Mexico college golfers, killing nine people, and he had methamphetamine in his system, investigators said Thursday.
The National Transportation Safety Board said two days after the March 15 collision that its early findings suggested that the 13-year-old was driving the pickup that struck the van carrying University of the Southwest students and coaches back to Hobbs, New Mexico, from a golf tournament in Midland, Texas. But the NTSB said in a preliminary report released Thursday that DNA testing confirmed that the father, 38-year-old Henrich Siemens, was driving and that toxicological testing showed the presence of methamphetamine in the Siemens’ blood.
Siemens and his son died in the crash along with six members of the men’s and women’s golf teams and their coach, who was driving the van.
The collision happened at about 8:17 p.m. in Andrews County, which is roughly 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of Texas’ border with New Mexico. Although it’s a rural area, the roads there are often busy with traffic related to agriculture and oil and gas development.
In the days after the crash, the NTSB had said that the truck’s left front tire blew before impact. But it said Thursday that so far, investigators haven’t found evidence of a loss in tire pressure or any other indicators that the tire failed.
The NTSB said the road they were traveling on consisted of a northbound lane and southbound lane. Near the crash site, the roadway was straight but there was no highway lighting.
Those killed in the van were coach Tyler James, 26, of Hobbs, New Mexico; and players Mauricio Sanchez, 19, of Mexico; Travis Garcia, 19, of Pleasanton, Texas; Jackson Zinn, 22, of Westminster, Colorado; Karisa Raines, 21, of Fort Stockton, Texas; Laci Stone, 18, of Nocona, Texas; and Tiago Sousa, 18, of Portugal.
Two other students aboard the van were seriously injured.
The crash is still being investigated to determine the probable case of the crash, the NTSB said.