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NTSB Announces Pickup Driver in University of the Southwest Golf Team Crash Was 13

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVMarch 18, 2022

Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

A 13-year-old was driving the pickup truck that killed nine people in a crash in Texas, the National Transportation Safety Board announced Thursday, per Cedar Attanasio, Jill Bleed and Anita Snow of the Associated Press.

The truck collided with a van carrying members of the University of the Southwest golf teams, the school confirmed Wednesday. It led to the deaths of six student-athletes and their coach, via Amanda Watts, Holly Yan and Rosa Flores of CNN.

NTSB vice chairman Bruce Landsberg said the pickup truck was using a spare tire on the left front side which blew out before the crash. While investigators have yet to determine the speed at which the vehicles were traveling, Landsberg said "this was clearly a high-speed collision."

"The Dodge pickup drove into the northbound lane and struck the Ford passenger van head on," Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Steven Blanco said. "Both vehicles caught fire and burned."

The driver and a passenger in the pickup truck were killed in the crash along with the seven members of the USW golf team. Two other student-athletes were critically injured and airlifted to Lubbock, Texas for treatment, according to the AP.

Individuals in Texas must be at least 15 years old to apply for a learner's permit and drive with an instructor or other licensed adult. 

The University of the Southwest is located in Hobbs, New Mexico, and the team was headed home from a tournament in Midland, Texas.

University of the Southwest President Quint Thurman provided a statement to NBC News following the crash:

"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. My understanding is that two of our students have survived and have been airlifted to University hospital in Lubbock with serious injuries. We would ask for prayers for their recovery and for comfort and strength for all of families and friends and students of those whose lives have been lost."

A golf tournament hosted by Midland College has been canceled this week following the tragedy.      

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