13-year-old boy drove pickup that struck van, killing 9 in Texas: Police - GulfToday

13-year-old boy drove pickup that struck van, killing 9 in Texas: Police


Golf team students who were killed in the crash and the damaged bus on the side of the road at the scene of a fatal car wreck in Texas on Friday. AP

The investigation into this week's fiery head-on crash in West Texas now focuses on the revelation that a 13-year-old was driving the pickup truck that struck a van, killing nine people, including six members of a college golf team and their coach.

The young teen was killed in the crash along with his father, who was a passenger in the truck, Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Steven Blanco said Friday. The teen's name has not been released, and investigators have not yet determined why the youth was behind the wheel, Blanco said.

National Transportation Safety Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg on Thursday revealed the truck was driven by the child. He said the truck's left front tyre, which was a spare tyre, blew out before impact.

Car-crash-Texas A damaged pickup truck on the side of the road at the scene of a fatal car wreck in Texas. AP

The pickup truck crossed into the opposite lane on the darkened, two-lane highway before colliding head-on with the van. Both vehicles burst into flames.

Although it was unclear how fast the two vehicles were travelling, "this was clearly a high-speed collision,” Landsberg said.

Landsberg said investigators hoped to retrieve enough information from the vehicles' recorders, if they survived, to understand what happened. He said many in the van were not wearing seatbelts and at least one was ejected from the vehicle.

It's not unusual for young teens to drive in that region and other more rural parts of the United States. One must be 14 in Texas to start taking classroom courses for a learner’s license and 15 to receive that provisional license to drive with an instructor or licensed adult in the vehicle.

Department of Public Safety Sgt. Victor Taylor said a 13-year-old driving would be breaking the law.

Mourners-Texascrash People attend a memorial for Jackson Zinn at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Hobbs. AP

The University of the Southwest students, including one from Portugal and one from Mexico, and the coach were returning from a golf tournament in Midland, Texas, when the vehicles collided on Tuesday night. Two Canadian students were hospitalised in critical condition.

The NTSB sent an investigative team to the crash site in Texas’ Andrews County, about 50 kilometres east of the New Mexico state line.

University of the Southwest spokeswoman Maria Duarte declined to comment on the NTSB’s announcement about the young driver, citing the ongoing investigation. The private Christian college is located in Hobbs, New Mexico, near the Texas state line.

Golfplayers-killedFrom left, golfers Laci Stone, Hayden Underhill and Jackson Zinn. AP

The golf teams were travelling in a 2017 Ford Transit van that was towing a box trailer when it collided with the 2007 Dodge 2500 pickup, according to NTSB spokesperson Eric Weiss. The speed limit at the crash site is 120kph, he said.

The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the deceased as: Golf 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.

Also killed were Henrich Siemens, 38, of Seminole County, Texas, and his 13-year-old son, who were in the truck.

Golfplayers-Texascrash From left, golfers Karisa Raines, Mauricio Sanchez and Tiago Sousa. AP

Critically injured aboard the van were Canadian students Dayton Price, 19, of Mississauga, Ontario, and Hayden Underhill, 20, of Amherstview, Ontario. Both were taken by helicopter to Lubbock, about 180 kilometres to the northeast.

"They are both stable and recovering, and every day making more and more progress,” University of the Southwest Provost Ryan Tipton said on Thursday.

"One of the students is eating chicken soup,” said Tipton, calling their recovery "a game of inches.”

The Mexican Federation of Golf posted an online note of condolence to the loved ones of Mauricio Sanchez.


Associated Press

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