9 people were killed in a head-on crash involving the University of the Southwest golf teams

By Amanda Watts, Holly Yan and Rosa Flores, CNN

(CNN) -- At least nine people -- including six students -- were killed in a fiery crash between a pickup truck and a van carrying members of the University of the Southwest's men's and women's golf teams, officials said Wednesday.

The crash happened around 8:17 p.m. Tuesday just outside Andrews, Texas, the Texas Department of Public Safety said.

"A Dodge 2500 pickup was traveling southbound on FM 1788. A Ford Transit passenger van registered to the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, NM was traveling northbound on FM 1788," the DPS said in a statement. An earlier notice from the agency misidentified the pickup as a Ford F-150.

"For unknown reasons, the Dodge pickup drove into the northbound lane and struck the Ford passenger van head on," DPS Sgt. Steven Blanco said. "Both vehicles caught fire and burned."

Six students and one faculty member aboard the university van were killed, the DPS said. The driver and a passenger in the pickup truck also died.

"The USW campus community is shocked and saddened today as we mourn the loss of members of our university family," read a statement from the university based in Hobbs, New Mexico.

"Nine passengers, including the coach, were on the university bus involved in the fatal accident. While the accident investigation is still underway, reports indicate that seven passengers aboard the bus were killed in the crash," the statement said.

"Two of the passengers are in critical condition undergoing medical treatment in Lubbock, Texas."

Members of the men's and women's golf teams were traveling back to their New Mexico campus from a tournament when their bus was struck by oncoming traffic, USW said.

State and local officials mourned the victims.

"I am deeply saddened by news of a fatal crash involving students and staff from the University of the Southwest in Hobbs," New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said on Twitter.

"This is a terrible, tragic accident. As we await additional information from authorities, my prayers are with the loved ones of all those involved."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, in a statement, said: "We grieve with the loved ones of the individuals whose lives were horrifically taken too soon in this fatal vehicle crash near Andrews last night.

"The Texas Department of Public Safety is working closely with local officials to investigate this accident, and we offer our full support to the University of the Southwest and the state of New Mexico. I ask Texans to join Cecilia and me in praying for the families of those whose lives were lost and for the recovery of two critically injured students."

The city of Hobbs, Texas, said in a statement it was "deeply saddened and shocked" by the tragedy.

The statement noted that the city golf course Rockwind Community Links serves as home for the university's teams.

"Please keep their players, students, families, and staff in your prayers as they experience this as one," the statement said.

The tournament, hosted by Midland College at Ranchland Hills Golf Course in Midland, has been canceled. There were 11 schools in the two-day competition, which included both men's and women's teams, Midland College Athletic Director Forrest Allen said.

"We were all shocked to learn of this tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with USW as they grieve this terrible loss," Allen said in a statement.

Midland College will fly its flags at half staff through Friday.

The weather in the area Tuesday evening was clear with no fog, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said. There were no freezing temperatures, and the wind was light at around 5 to 8 mph.

State officials, with assistance from the National Transportation Safety Board, are investigating the crash.

NTSB said via Twitter it was sending a team of investigators to Texas, including agency vice chairman Bruce Landsberg.

The-CNN-Wire
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