New details have emerged about the horrific University of the Southwest collision in Texas. It has now been revealed that 13-year-old Rickey Siemens was driving the pickup truck when it collided with the university van. Siemens perished in the fiery crash, along with his father, six members of the USW golf teams and their head coach.
According to law enforcement sources with the Daily Mail, 13-year-old Rickey Siemens was illegally driving his father’s pickup truck, under his supervision, when their spare tire ruptured and the child lost control of the vehicle.
Henrich Siemens, 38, was heading with his son to pick up a new truck that he recently purchased, National Transportation Safety Board vice chairman Bruce Landsberg reported after speaking with the man’s widow.
“This was clearly a high-speed collision,” Landsberg added once he reviewed the heavy damage, though the devastating Midland crash is still being investigated by The Texas Highway Patrol.
According to Texas state law, teenagers must be at least 15 years old before they can obtain a provisional license, and at least 14 years old before they can start taking driving lessons.
Colliding head-on with the University of Southwest van, the fiery road accident killed golfers Mauricio Sanchez, 19, of Mexico; Travis Garcia, 19, of Texas; Jackson Zinn, 22, of Colorado; Karisa Raines, 21, of Texas; Laci Stone, 18, of Texas; and Tiago Sousa, 18, of Portugal.
The van’s driver, coach Tyler James, was also killed in the incident. According to the school, it was his first year as head coach.
Two other students, recently identified as Dayton Price, 19, and Hayden Underhill, 20, were airlifted to a nearby hospital and said to be in critical condition. The pair have since stabilized, according to officials, and are being visited by family.
“University of the Southwest officials say their families are now in Lubbock to be with them as they begin their recovery,” local reporter Tatum Guinn wrote on Twitter. “We’re told one is up and eating chicken soup.”
University of the Southwest Director of Athletics Steve Appel asked for privacy at this time as new information is released and families grieve the loss of their loved ones.
“I want to personally thank everyone who has reached out to our University in the past 24 hours. The outpouring of support is greatly appreciated and will help us get through this very difficult time,” Appel said in an official statement on Wednesday. “USW is a tight-knit family, and I am confident we will work together to get through this.”
According to the New York Post, a friend of the Siemens family informed reporters that the young driver, a member of the Mennonite Evangelical Church, was also involved in an accident that left his family homeless just a couple of months ago.
“Just before Christmas, their house burned down,” the family friend revealed. “The 13-year-old made some eggs and forgot about it.”
The accident, which destroyed their home, also killed one of their family dogs, according to the source.
“Some of the children ran out of the house without shoes. It’s hard to restart for this family of six,” the source told local reporters. “I couldn’t imagine going through all that and then to have this happen … It’s just so sad.
Though no one was injured in the house fire, 13-Year-Old Rickey Siemens reportedly had three other siblings. His mother, Aggie Siemens, later posted a photo tribute to her late husband and son on Facebook titled “In Loving Memory.”
Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Steven Blanco worked to help direct first responders and crash cleanup crews following the tragic incident, reporting that it was a “very tragic scene … very, very tragic.”