ANDREWS COUNTY, Texas (KOSA/Gray News) – Nine people were killed, including six University of the Southwest students and the golf coach, in a crash in Texas involving the team’s van, the Texas Department of Public Safety said Wednesday.
Two other students were in critical condition and airlifted to a hospital in Lubbock, Texas.
The Ford Transit van carrying the men’s and women’s golf teams collided with a Dodge 2500 truck. Public safety officials said the truck was traveling southbound when it moved into the oncoming lane for an unknown reason and collided head-on with the van, KOSA reported.
The driver and passenger in the truck also died.
The coach who died was identified by the university as Tyler James. The Texas Department of Public Safety has not released the names of the other victims.
Family members confirmed freshman Laci Stone was among those who died in the crash. Stone graduated from Nocona High School in Texas in 2021, where she played golf, volleyball and softball.
“She has been an absolute ray of sunshine during this short time on earth,” her mother, Chelsi Stone, said on Facebook. “… We will never be the same after this and we just don’t understand how this happened to our amazing, beautiful, smart, joyful girl.”
The Texas Highway District Crash Team is investigating the accident.
University of the Southwest is a private Christian university in Hobbs, New Mexico. The university said on Twitter that it was working to notify family members, and counseling would be available on campus.
“The USW campus community is shocked and saddened today as we mourn the loss of members of our university family,” the school said in a statement. “Last night, the men’s and women’s golf teams were traveling back to campus from competition in Midland, Texas, when their bus was struck by oncoming traffic. Nine passengers, including the coach, were on the university bus involved in the fatal accident.”
The teams were returning from a tournament Tuesday at Midland College in Texas. Midland College President Dr. Steve Thomas expressed his condolences on behalf of the school in a statement.
“This is a devastating loss to that school, and words cannot express how deeply hurt we feel for their loss,” he said. “I have ordered the MC flag to fly at half-staff through Friday to honor the memories of Coach Tyler James and his team.”
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Facebook that she is “deeply saddened” by the loss of life.
“This is a terrible accident. As we await additional information from authorities, my prayers are with the community and the loved ones of all those involved,” she said.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also expressed sympathy.
“We grieve with the loved ones of the individuals whose lives were horrifically taken too soon in this fatal vehicle crash near Andrews last night,” Abbott said.
Copyright 2022 KOSA via Gray Media Group, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to the report. All rights reserved.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism