Families and communities from Portugal to Colorado are mourning the loss of six collegiate golfers and a coach who were among the nine people killed in a two-vehicle crash on a rural Texas highway on Tuesday.
Six members of the University of the Southwest men’s and women’s golf team ranging in age from 18 to 22 were killed along with head coach Tyler James, the Texas Department of Public Safety said Wednesday.
The team was in a passenger van returning to their campus in Hobbs, New Mexico, from a tournament in Midland, Texas, when a Dodge 2500 pickup truck driving in the other direction swerved into their lane and collided with the van on a two-lane road in Andrews County at 8:17 p.m. local time, Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Steven Blanco said.
The fiery crash also claimed the lives of the pickup truck's driver, Henrich Siemens, 38, and a 13-year-old passenger, according to the Texas DPS.
Two surviving members of the golf team, Dayton Price, 19, and Hayden Underhill, 20, both of Ontario, Canada, were airlifted to University Medical Center in Lubbock, where they remain in critical condition.
“The USW campus community is shocked and saddened today as we mourn the loss of members of our university family,” the University of the Southwest said in a statement.
Officials at the National Transportation Safety Board said at a press conference Wednesday that they are sending investigators to determine the cause of the crash.
NBC News national correspondent Morgan Chesky spoke with family members and former coaches of some of the victims on TODAY Thursday as communities across four states and three countries mourn their loss.
Multiple dead in crash involving New Mexico University's golf teamMarch 16, 202201:33
Ben Kirkes, a golf pro at Rockwind Community Links in Hobbs who worked closely with the team, created a hometown memorial for those who died.
"Life shouldn’t be taken for granted, and you should really hold on to those you love," Kirkes told Chesky.
The team was also honored by Midland College head coach Walt Williams, who left their team scores on the board after the tournament's final round was cancelled following the crash.
Here's what to know about the victims:
Karisa Raines, 21, was a junior biology major and devout Christian from Fort Stockton, Texas, who was set to graduate early.
"She was my baby, and I don't know what I’m going to do without her," her mother, Sandy Raines, told Chesky on TODAY.
"Right now we just keep thinking that every once, well, we’re going to wake up from this terrible nightmare, but it’s not happening," her father, Gary Raines, said on TODAY.
Karisa had planned on pursuing a master's degree in forensic science at the University of the Southwest.
Jackson Zinn, 22, was a junior from Westminster, Colorado, majoring in hospital management, according to the school's athletic website.
A Facebook post written by a friend on behalf of Zinn's family said Zinn worked with special needs children as a volunteer with Westminster United Soccer.
"Devastated does not do justice," Heather Simms Schichtel wrote. "To know Jackson was to know his sweet nature, his piercing blue eyes, quick wit and dimples you swear could wink. He loved his family, loved golf and was true to his faith."
Travis Garcia, 19, was a freshman criminal justice major from Pleasanton, Texas, who hoped to become either a professional golfer or a member of the Secret Service, according to his bio.
“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.”
“The whole Pleasanton ISD community is in shock and grieving for the entire family,” Pleasanton Independent School District athletic director Tab Dumont said in a statement to NBC News. “Not only was Travis a phenomenal golfer and great kid, he comes from a great family. His mother used to work in the district and Travis was doing great things in college and in life.”
Mauricio Sanchez, 19, was a freshman who also played for a golf club in Mexico, according to the Mexican Golf Federation.
"The Mexican Golf Federation mourns the sensitive passing of Mauricio Sánchez López, a member of the University of the Southwest golf team and the Pulgas Pandas Golf Club," the organization tweeted in Spanish on Wednesday. "We extend our deepest condolences to family and friends."
Laci Stone, 18, was a freshman global business management major from Nocona, Texas, according to her bio on the school's site. She heartbreakingly listed "all the bus rides" with her teams as her favorite sports memory.
Her mother, Chelsi Stone, wrote on Facebook that her daughter was an "absolute ray of sunshine during this short time on earth" alongside a photo of them with matching heart tattoos on their left arms.
Colby Schniederjan, her former golf coach at Nocona High School, remembered her vibrant personality.
“There’s never a dull moment with Laci," he told Chesky in a phone interview. "She joked and sang and lived life to the fullest, and it’s going to be really hard not to have her around anymore. Tough thing to deal with right now."
Tiago Sousa, 18, was a freshman who was from Portugal, according to the Texas DPS.
"I am a humble person who never gives up and who is always ready to take on every challenge he is faced with," Sousa wrote on an athletic recruiting profile.
He played at Escola Secundaria de Loule in Loule, Portugal, in high school before beginning his career at the University of the Southwest, according to the profile. He hoped to become a professional on the PGA or European Tour.
Tyler James, 26, was in his first season as the head coach of the university's men's and women's teams. He had been a graduate assistant coach at East Texas Baptist University the last two years, according to his bio.
He played collegiately at Ottawa University and Howard Payne University. He earned a degree in education from Howard Payne University and a master's degree in kinesiology from East Texas Baptist University.
“He was a wonderful young man and was already building a nice program at USW,” Walt Williams, the coach at Midland College, said in a statement.