Federal investigators revealed new details Thursday in the fatal crash that killed nine people, including seven members of a college golf team, in March, and said that contrary to its initial findings a 38-year-old man was behind the wheel, not a teenage boy.
The National Transportation Safety Board released a report that said a DNA test from the scene of the March 15 accident near Andrews, Texas, determined the adult was driving the 2007 Dodge pickup truck that hit the van carrying the University of the Southwest's men's and women's golf teams. Police identified the 38-year-old as Henrich Siemens.
Robert Molloy, the director of the NTSB's Office of Highway Safety, told reporters Thursday that investigators made that initial determination that the 13-year-old passenger was the driver based on information available at the time and noted that the wreck was "catastrophic."
"This made understanding some of the details of the crash very difficult," he said.
Siemens and the teenager also died in the crash.
The report said that further toxicological tests found "the presence of methamphetamine in the pickup truck driver’s blood."
"We know it was found in his system and we know meth can affect driver performance … but at this point, it's too early to say if the finding we have in the toxicology report had any factor in this crash," Molloy said.
The crash took place when the truck crossed the centerline on Farm-to-Market Road 1788 and crashed head-on into the van occupied by a driver and eight passengers from the school, according to the NTSB's latest report.
The golf team's coach and six athletes were killed, police said. Two other team members suffered serious injuries and were hospitalized, according to the police.
Molloy said the families of the victims were notified of the report and the new findings prior to its release.
The NTSB report also reversed another preliminary statement made by the NTSB shortly after the crash. New analysis found that, contrary to initial reports, there was no "evidence of a sudden or rapid loss of tire air pressure or any other indicators of catastrophic failure of the pickup truck’s front left tire."
Molloy said the investigation is continuing and the agency expects to have a full report and findings sometime in 2023.