NTSB: Dad, not boy, was driving truck that hit golfers’ van

Jamie Stengle
Associated Press

Dallas – 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.

Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers look over the scene of a fatal car wreck early on March 16, 2022, in Andrews County, Texas, where a pickup truck crossed the center line of a two-lane road in Andrews County and crashed into a van carrying members of the University of the Southwest men's and women's golf teams.

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.

Emergency responders work the scene of a fatal crash late Tuesday, March 15, 2022 in Andrews County, Texas.   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 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.