At least nine people are dead after a vehicle carrying members of a New Mexico university’s golf team collided with a pickup truck in Texas, the school said.
Nine passengers including the team’s coach were on the bus involved in the fatal crash, the University of the Southwest said in a statement.
Two passengers from the bus are in critical condition, a driver and passenger in the pickup were also both killed. The vehicles collided on Tuesday night in Andrews County in west Texas, just after 20:00 local time (01:00 GMT).
“It’s a very tragic scene,” Sergeant Steven Blanco of the Texas department of public safety told local TV station KWES-TV. “It’s very, very tragic.” Six students and a faculty member were killed, Mr Blanco said, along with two people in the pickup. Family members of freshman Laci Stone said on Facebook that she was among those killed.
“Our Laci is gone,” her mother, Chelsi Stone, wrote on Wednesday. “She has been an absolute ray of sunshine during this short time on earth.” Laci grew up in Nocona, Texas and was one of three siblings. In her team biography Laci, who was studying global business management, said she had wanted to be a business owner after graduating.
“We will never be the same after this and we just don’t understand how this happened,” her mother wrote. The bus, a Ford Transit passenger van, was carrying members of the both men’s and women’s golf teams from a golf tournament, authorities said. The other vehicle involved was a Dodge 2500 pickup truck.
The Ford bus had been travelling northbound on the FM1788 roadway in Texas, while the Dodge pickup was travelling southbound. “For unknown reasons, the Dodge pickup- drove into the northbound lane and struck the Ford passenger van head-on,” Mr Blanco said. “Both vehicles caught fire and burned.”
The golf teams had been returning from a tournament at Midland College, about 300 miles (480km) west of Dallas. The university is “shocked and saddened” by the loss, the school said in a statement. Two of the bus passengers are undergoing medical treatment in Lubbock, Texas, it said.
An investigation has been opened into the crash and the university has said it is working to notify relatives of those involved.
The University of the Southwest is a private, Christian school in Hobbs, New Mexico, close to the state’s border with Texas. New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Texas Governor Greg Abbott both expressed their condolences following the crash.