Authorities say the pickup truck crossed the center line of the highway and crashed into a minibus carrying members of Southwestern University’s golfing teams.

ANDRUS, Texas – Nine people died in the fire, head-on collision in West Texasincluding six students and a coach from the University of New Mexico who were returning home from a golf tournament, authorities said.

On Tuesday night, 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 line, and crashed into a van carrying members of Southwestern University for men and women. golf teams, the sergeant said. Stephen Blanco of the Texas Department of Homeland Security.

Six students and a faculty member were killed in the crash along with the driver and passenger of the pickup, Blanco said. Two students were taken in critical condition by helicopter to a hospital in Labak, about 110 miles (180 kilometers) northeast.

Family members confirmed freshman Laci Stone was among those killed in the crash. Stone graduated from Nokon High School in Texas in 2021, where she played golf, volleyball and softball.

“She has been the absolute sunshine in this short time on earth,” her mother Chelsea Stone said on Facebook. “… After that, we will never be the same, and we just don’t understand how it happened to our amazing, beautiful, smart, joyful girl.”

RELATED: “Hearts the size of Texas” University of Southwest Golf from North Texas among the few killed in the crash

Lacey Stone specialized in global business management, reports her biography on the golf team’s website.

Team member Jasmine Colum was supposed to play, but decided at the last minute to visit her parents in Houston, her mother said.

“Otherwise who knows?” Said Tonya Colum. “I told her that God has a plan for her and so she’s fine. We knew all those people on board. Basically the whole team is gone or in the hospital. ”

The National Transportation Safety Board will send a 12-member “team” to the crash site, including experts on human performance, vehicle and vehicle factors and accident reconstruction, agency spokesman Eric Weiss said. The team is expected to arrive later Wednesday, he said.

“We will try to find out not only what happened, but also why it happened, so that we can prevent such events in the future,” he said.

The golf team was riding in a 2017 Ford Transit van that was towing a trailer when it collided with a 2007 Dodge pickup truck, Weiss said. Both vehicles caught fire after the collision, he said, calling it a “high-energy event”.

The accident happened on a two-lane asphalt highway, where the speed limit is 75 miles per hour (120 km per hour), although investigators have not yet determined how fast this or that car was moving, Weiss said.

The University of the Southwest is a private Christian college located in Hobbes, New Mexico, near the state border with Texas.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Luhan Grisham said on Facebook that she was “deeply saddened” by the deaths.

“This is a terrible accident. While we are waiting for additional information from the authorities, I have prayers with the community and relatives of all those involved, ”she said.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott also expressed condolences.

“We mourn with loved ones whose lives were killed too early in this deadly car accident near Andrews last night,” Abbott said.

The teams took part in a golf tournament at Midland College, about 315 miles (505 kilometers) west of Dallas.

“We are still studying the details of the accident, but devastated and deeply saddened to learn of the deaths of our students and their coach,” University President Quint Thurman said in a statement.

University said on Twitter that she is working to notify the family members of those involved in the accident, and that counseling and religious services will be available on campus.

Midland College, which hosted the golf tournament, said Wednesday’s game would be canceled due to an accident. The event was attended by 11 schools.

“All the players and their coaches from the participating schools gathered early this morning,” Midland College College sporting director Forest Allen said Wednesday. “We were all shocked to learn of this tragedy and our thoughts and prayers from USW when they mourn this terrible loss.”

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