The National Transportation Safety Board stated Thursday that the pickup vehicle involved in the Texas disaster, which killed nine people and injured two more, was driven by a 13-year-old kid.
The news came as relatives and friends mourned the six members of the University of the Southwest golf team and their coach who died in the catastrophic crash. Two more golfers were taken to the hospital in critical condition.
Flowers, golf balls, and a cross were placed at a memorial for the six New Mexico college students and their golf instructor slain on Tuesday.
“These kids were excellent kids and great community members,” said Ben Kirkes, manager of Rockwind Community Links in Hobbs, New Mexico, where the pupils rehearsed. “They were courteous, and it was a pleasure to be among them.”
Kirkes assisted in the installation of the memorial at a golf course near the city’s southeast border with Texas.
The pickup vehicle crossed the middle line of a two-lane road, colliding with a van carrying nine students from the University of the Southwest’s men’s and women’s golf teams, which are located near the state boundary. They had just returned from a tournament in Midland, Texas.
Tyler James, the head coach from Hobbs, New Mexico, was among those killed. 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 were among the students who died.
Henrich Siemens, 38, of Seminole, Texas, and the 13-year-old kid, who has not been identified, were also killed in the pickup vehicle.
According to NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg, the incident happened at a rapid rate, and the pickup truck’s front left tire, which was a spare, was blown out before the contact.
In Texas, a teen must be 14 years old to begin driving in a classroom setting, and 15 years old to acquire a provisional license. Sgt. Victor Taylor of the Department of Public Safety stated that a 13-year-old driving would be breaching the law.
The two gravely injured students remained in the hospital on Thursday, according to University of the Southwest provost Ryan Tipton, and were making steady improvement.
“There’s no telling how long it’ll take,” he added during a press conference, “but they’re both stable and healing, and every day they’re making more and more progress.”
Tipton said a counselor and worship team are on school to help mourning youngsters.
“We also lay our faith in something bigger than ourselves, and that’s what helps us recover,” he added as a Christian university.
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