Tragedy struck in West Texas this past March, when a pickup truck swerved into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with a van carrying a university golf team. Both vehicles burst into flames, and nine people were killed. Initial reports indicated that the driver of the pickup truck was a 13-year-old child, but this week, the National Transportation Safety Board has concluded that the teen’s father was driving, and that he had methamphetamines in his system at the time of the crash, Yahoo News reports.
According to the NTSB’s investigation, on March 15 around 8 p.m. near the Texas-New Mexico border, the pickup truck, driving at a high rate of speed, crossed into the oncoming lane of the two-lane highway and collided head-on with the passenger van. Initially, authorities had said a blown tire caused the truck to veer into the opposing lane. The father and son in the pickup, along with six members of the golf team and their coach riding in the van, were killed. Two members of the golf team survived with serious injuries.
In this new report, federal authorities use DNA analysis to conclude that 38-year-old Henrich Siemens, not his 13-year-old son, was driving the pickup truck at the time of the horrific crash. Tests also indicate that Siemens had drugs in his system at the time of the crash, with toxicology specifically noting a presence of methamphetamines.
Investigation into the deadly crash is ongoing. As NTSB’s director of highway safety Robert Molloy told the Associated Press, “This was a very difficult investigation to determine some of the facts based on the catastrophic nature of the damage and the post-crash fire.” Due to those difficulties, Molloy says the investigation could go on into 2023.
In addition to Siemens and his 13-year-old son (who has not been named in coverage of the crash due to being a minor), the Texas Department of Public Safety identified those killed in the crash as Mauricio Sanchez, 19, of Mexico; Laci Stone, 18, of Nocona, Texas; Travis Garcia, 19, of Pleasanton, Texas; Jackson Zinn, 22, of Westminster, Colorado; Karisa Raines, 21, of Fort Stockton, Texas; Tiago Sousa, 18, of Portugal; and 26-year-old coach Tyler James of Hobbs, New Mexico.