Man, not boy, driving truck that hit University of the Southwest golfers’ van, had meth in system

DALLAS — A Texas man, not his 13-year-old son, was driving the pickup that pulled into the oncoming lane and rammed 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 preliminary findings indicated the 13-year-old was driving the pickup truck that backed the van carrying University of the Southwest students and their bus from a Golf Tournament had traveled to New Mexico.

But the NTSB said Thursday that DNA tests confirmed the father, 38-year-old Henrich Siemens, drove and that toxicology tests showed the presence of methamphetamine in his blood.

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 that was towing a cargo trailer.

The collision occurred around 8:17 p.m. in Andrews County, which is about 50 kilometers east of the Texas-New Mexico border. Although this is a rural area, the roads there can often be busy with traffic related to agriculture and oil and gas exploration.

In the days after the accident, the NTSB had said that the truck’s left front tire blew out before the impact. But it said Thursday that investigators have so far found no evidence of a tire deflation or any other indication that the tire has failed.

The NTSB said the road they were traveling on consisted of a northbound lane and a southbound lane. The road was straight near the scene of the accident, but there were no highway lights.

Those killed in the van were trainer Tyler James, 26, of Hobbs, New Mexico; and player Mauricio Sanchez, 19, from 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, from Portugal.

Two other students on board the van were seriously injured.

Most of the students were freshmen who got their first taste of life away from home at the private Christian university with hundreds of enrollments. Those who knew James the coach said his goal was to be head coach and he was excited to be there.

The crash was the latest tragedy for the Siemens family, who lived in Seminole, Texas, a rural community of about 7,500 people, some of whom first moved to the country in the 1970s with other Mennonite families who began farming and raising cattle area. Parishioners had gathered around Siemens and his wife months earlier when a fire that broke out in the kitchen destroyed the house where they had lived for ten years.

The crash is still under investigation to determine the probable cause, the NTSB said. Man, not boy, driving truck that hit University of the Southwest golfers’ van, had meth in system

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