University of the Southwest golf teams involved in fatal car crash

(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Several members of the University of Southwest golf team have died after a fiery, head-on crash between a pickup truck and a van carrying members of both the men’s and women’s golf teams in west Texas.

At least nine people have died, including six students and one coach from the New Mexico university, officials said Wednesday. The driver and a passenger in the pickup truck also died.

The golfers were returning from a tournament in Midland, Texas.

According to Sgt. Steven Blanco of the Texas Department of Public Safety, a pickup truck crossed the centerline of a highway on Tuesday night and crashed into a vehicle carrying members of the two teams. In addition to the nine dead, two students were airlifted by helicopter to a Lubbock hospital in critical condition.

“It’s a very tragic scene,” Blanco said. “It’s very, very tragic… For unknown reasons, the Dodge pickup drove into the northbound lane and struck the Ford passenger van head on. Both vehicles caught fire and burned.”

University of Southwest president Quint Thurman said in a statement Wednesday that the teams’ vehicle was being driven by coach Tyler James and that James was one of those that died.

“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,” Thurman said in the statement.

The crash is still under investigation by state officials who are being assisted by the National Transportation Safety Board.