What we know about the people killed in New Mexico college golf team crash

What we know about the people killed in New Mexico college golf team crash

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Six golfers and a coach from a New Mexico university were killed Tuesday when a pickup swerved head-on into their lane and hit the van they were traveling in from a tournament in West Texas.

Two of the University of the Southwest students survived and were in critical condition after being airlifted to a Lubbock hospital.

The students who were killed were 18 to 22 years old and from Portugal, Mexico, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety, which identified them.

The pickup’s driver, Henrich Siemens, 38, and a 13-year-old passenger were also killed.

“The USW campus community is shocked and saddened today as we mourn the loss of members of our university family,” the private Christian school near the Texas state line said in a statement.

Here’s what we know about the victims:

Tyler James, 26, was in his first season leading the men’s and women’s golf program at the University of the Southwest. James had previously coached and recruited at other schools, including East Texas Baptist University, where he helped turn the golf teams into top competitors, according to a school biography.

Walt Williams, the golf coach at Midland College, described James’ death as “very tragic.”

“He was a wonderful young man and was already building a nice program at USW,” Williams said in a statement.

Laci Stone, 18, was recalled by her high school golf coach, Colby Schniederjan, as one of his favorite kids — someone who was hardworking and optimistic, with a great smile that could light up the room.

Laci Stone with high school coach Heather Nobile.
Laci Stone with high school coach Heather Nobile.Courtesy Heather Nobile

“She joked and sang and lived life to the fullest, and it’s going to be really hard not to have her around anymore,” he said.

Schniederjan, who coached Stone for her sophomore, junior and senior years at Nocona High School, said the tight-knit community a couple hours northwest of Dallas was “devastated” by her death.

Travis Garcia, 19, was a freshman from Pleasanton, Texas, studying criminal justice with hopes of working for the Secret Service someday, according to an athlete profile on the university’s website.

In a statement, Tab Dumont, the athletic director of the Pleasanton Independent School District, said the community was in shock. He recalled Garcia as a “phenomenal golfer and great kid” from a great family.

“The thing about Travis was he worked hard and everyone saw that and it made everyone around him work just as hard as he did,” Pleasanton golf coach Mike Guerra told the San Antonio Express-News. “Travis was a main reason why we qualified for the state tournament for the first time in the school’s history last year.”

Losing Garcia, Guerra told the newspaper, “hit me like I lost my son.”

Jackson Zinn, 22, was a junior from Colorado who was majoring in hospital management and minoring in sports management, according to his university bio.

Jackson Zinn.
Jackson Zinn.Courtesy Zinn Family

A family friend, Heather Simms Schichtel, said he also taught special needs children with a soccer league in the city of Westminster.

“To know Jackson was to know his sweet nature, his piercing blue eyes, quick wit and dimples you swear could wink,” she said in a Facebook post. “He loved his family, loved golf and was true to his faith.”

“Devastated does not do justice,” she said. 

Karisa Raines, 21, was a junior from Fort Stockton, Texas, who was studying biology and was on track to graduate a year early, her father, Gary Raines, told NBC’s “TODAY” show.

She had planned to return to school for a master’s degree in forensic science, he said.

Karisa Raines.
Karisa Raines.Courtesy Sandy Raines

“We keep thinking once in a while we’re going to wake up from this terrible nightmare,” he said. “But it’s not happening. This is something that happens to other people. But right now we are the other people.”

Karisa is survived by three siblings, including a twin brother, and three step-siblings, he said.

Mauricio Sanchez, 19, was a freshman, according to a student profile.

According to the Mexican Golf Federation, he played for both the University of the Southwest and the Pulgas Pandas Golf Club.

“We extend our deepest condolences to family and friends,” the federation said.

Tiago Sousa, 18, was a freshman at the university, the school said on its athletics page.

Dayton Price, 19, and Hayden Underhill, 20, both of Ontario, Canada, were in critical condition.

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