Man With Meth in His System, Not 13-Year-Old, Was Driver in Golf Team Crash That Killed 9, According to Officials

The National Transportation Safety Board walked back a report that suggested a 13-year-old was driving the truck that crashed and killed 7 people inside a van.

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The National Transportation Safety Board issued a statement Tuesday clarifying a previous report which said a 13-year-old was behind the wheel of a pickup truck that collided with a van carrying members of the University of the Southwest golf team, per NBC News. 

DNA evidence shows the 13-year-old was a passenger in the vehicle, and his father Henrich Siemens was the driver. Siemens and the teen were killed in the crash. NTSB transportation research analyst Robert Molloy attributed the error to the state of the vehicles involved in the wreck when authorities arrived, telling reporters they were so badly damaged and burnt. 

An investigation into the crash is ongoing. Initial suspicions that a blown out front left tire contributed to the accident appears to be unsubstantiated.  

DNA testing also revealed that Siemens had meth in his system at the time of the crash.   

“During an on-scene media briefing on March 17, the NTSB stated that the driver of the pickup truck that crashed into the transit van was the 13-year-old male, based on information available at the time,” the NTSB said. “In addition to the DNA test results identifying the father as the pickup truck driver, NTSB post-crash toxicological testing revealed the presence of methamphetamine in the pickup truck driver’s blood.”

In an interview with NBC News, Tina Reimer, aunt of the 13-year-old, demanded an apology from the NTSB for failing to do its due diligence before identifying her nephew as the driver. “Shame on the NTSB for not gathering facts before going to the public with their findings,” she said. “With the family already suffering unimaginable loss, this initial false report made everything so much worse.”

Reimer added, “We’re so very sorry for all the people that suffered the loss of loved ones in this accident. There are still no words to describe how devastating this situation is.” 

Six members of the USW men’s and women’s teams, ranging in ages from 18 to 22, were killed, as well as their 26-year-old coach Tyler James. Two student-athletes survived, but sustained critical injuries. 

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