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NTSB: Father, not 13-year-old boy was behind the wheel in Texas collision

Randy Mancini 10 Jul 15
FILE - A golfer drives by a makeshift memorial at the Rockwind Community Links, on March 16, 2022, in Hobbs, New Mexico. The memorial was for student golfers and the coach of University of the Southwest killed in a crash in Texas. The father of a 13-year-old boy, not the teen, was driving a pickup that struck the team's van federal officials said on Thursday, July 14. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

FILE – A golfer drives by a makeshift memorial at the Rockwind Community Links, on March 16, 2022, in Hobbs, New Mexico. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)

Officials retracted their statement claiming a 13-year-old boy was behind the wheel in a crash that killed multiple people in Texas earlier this year. According to a preliminary report issued Thursday, DNA testing found the child’s father was driving the vehicle. Nine people were killed in the head-on collision in March after their pickup truck crashed into a van carrying men’s and women’s golf team members from the University of the Southwest.

“A Dodge 2500 pickup was traveling southbound on FM 1788,” the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement. “A Ford Transit passenger van registered to the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, NM was traveling northbound on FM 1788.”
One victim was Laci Stone, a freshman member of the women’s golf team who was majoring in global business management, according to a family member. The school identified the other students who died as 19-year-old Mauricio Sanchez, 19-year-old Travis Garcia, 22-year-old Jackson Zinn, 21-year-old Karisa Raines and 18-year-old Tiago Sousa. USW President Quint Thurman also confirmed the death of coach Tyler James.
“Last night Laci’s golf team was involved in a crash leaving a golf tournament,” Laci’s mother Chelsi Stone posted on Facebook. “Our sweet Laci didn’t make it. Our Laci is gone! She has been an absolute ray of sunshine during this short time on earth.”

The driver and passenger in the pickup truck also died. Investigators were able to identify the remains of the driver by his size. National Transportation Safety Board investigators said they found the presence of methamphetamine in the father’s blood.

NEW reversal from NTSB: DNA shows a 13-year-old boy was NOT the driver but *actually a passenger* in the pickup that hit a University of the Southwest golf team van. Nine people were killed in the head-on March 15 crash. pic.twitter.com/v2dZp7WVDz

— Pete Muntean (@petemuntean) July 14, 2022

Additionally, NTSB said contrary to early reports there was no evidence of a malfunction that could have caused the truck to steer into ongoing traffic.

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