A vehicle carrying members of the University of the Southwest’s golf teams collided head-on with a pickup truck in West Texas, killing multiple people, authorities said.
The vehicles collided Tuesday night in Andrews County and Sgt. Steven Blanco of the Texas Department of Public Safety told KWES-TV there were fatalities in both vehicles. According to Blanco, there have been nine confirmed deaths – six student-athletes, a faculty member and both the driver and passenger of the pickup. Also, two students were airlifted to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas, both in critical condition.
“It’s a very tragic scene,” Blanco said. “It’s very, very tragic.”
University president Quint Thurman said in a statement that Tyler James, who was in his first season as coach of the men’s and women’s golf teams, was among those killed.
“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.
The 17-passenger Ford passenger van, which was registered by USW, per the university, was traveling northbound on FM 1788 near SH115 just northeast of Andrews, Texas, when it collided with a Dodge 2500 pickup truck traveling southbound. Blanco said the pickup crossed the center line of a highway before crashing into the team’s van, which the university stated was carrying nine passengers.
The golf teams had just completed the first day of the TankLogix Collegiate at Ranchland Hills Golf Club in Midland, Texas, about 315 miles west of Dallas. The final round was supposed to conclude Wednesday, but it has been canceled.
The University of the Southwest is a private, Christian college located in Hobbs, New Mexico, near the state’s border with Texas.
The university said on Twitter that it was working to notify family members of those involved in the crash, and counseling and religious services would be available on campus.
The crash was under investigation, Blanco said, and details about the number of people in each vehicle weren’t immediately released. The roadway where the crash occurred was closed early Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report