Nine people died in a fiery, head-on collision in West Texas, including six students and a coach from a New Mexico university who were returning home from a golf tournament, authorities said.
A pickup truck crossed the center line of a two-lane road in Andrews County, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) east of the New Mexico state line on Tuesday evening and crashed into a van carrying members of the University of the Southwest men’s and women’s golf teams, said Sgt. Steven Blanco of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Six students and a faculty member were killed in the crash along with the driver and a passenger in the pickup truck, Blanco said. Two students were taken in critical condition by helicopter to a hospital in Lubbock, about 110 miles (180 kilometers) to the northeast.
“It’s a very tragic scene,” Blanco said. “It’s very, very tragic.”
The National Transportation Safety Board will send a 12-member “go team” to the crash site, including experts in human performance, vehicle and motor carrier factors and accident reconstruction, agency spokesman Eric Weiss said. The team is expected to arrive late Wednesday afternoon or early evening, he said.
The University of the Southwest is a private, Christian college located in Hobbs, New Mexico, near the state’s border with Texas.
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.
The teams were taking part in a tournament at Midland College, about 315 miles (505 kilometers) west of Dallas.
“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,” University President Quint Thurman said in a statement.
The university said on Twitter that it was working to notify family members of those involved in the crash, and that counseling and religious services would be available on campus.
Midland College, which hosted the golf tournament, said Wednesday’s play would be canceled because of the crash. Eleven schools are participating in the event.
“All of the players and their coaches from the participating schools met together early this morning,” Midland College athletic director Forrest Allen said in a statement Wednesday. “We were all shocked to learn of this tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with USW as they grieve this terrible loss.”
The crash happened in the same area — but not the same roadway — where three people were killed in November when a pickup truck crashed into a school bus carrying members of the Andrews High School band.
The high school’s band director, the school bus driver and the driver of the pickup truck all died in that crash.