A Man, Not His 13-Year-Old Son, Was Driving The Truck That Killed 9 People In Texas, Officials Now Say

Victims of the crash included six student golfers and their coach who were returning to New Mexico after a tournament.

A group of four people hug in a parking lot

Federal transportation investigators released findings into a deadly crash that killed nine people in Texas in March, determining that a 13-year-old was not behind the wheel of a pickup truck when it struck another vehicle.

Instead, National Transportation Safety Board​ investigators said in a preliminary report that the boy's father was driving the truck and that toxicology testing revealed he had methamphetamine in his system at the time.

Both the father and son died when their truck crossed a lane and collided with a van carrying eight student golfers and their coach from the University of the Southwest in Hobbs, New Mexico, on March 15.

The crash caused both vehicles to catch fire.

Six of the students and their coach were killed, while the other two students were seriously injured.

Two days after the crash, NTSB officials said their initial belief was that the young boy had been driving, but subsequent DNA testing determined it was his 38-year-old father.

"To date, the investigation has not found 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," officials wrote in the preliminary report. "However, all aspects of the crash remain under investigation while the NTSB determines the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar events."

NTSB Director of Highway Safety Robert Molloy told reporters in a briefing on Thursday that investigators were still determining the speeds of the two vehicles, but that the speed limit on the rural road was 75 mph.

Malloy said the initial conclusion that the boy was driving was made by a team of investigators, but that their work was made harder by virtue of this being a "very high-energy collision" that was head-on.

"As a result of that, there was a lot of catastrophic damage to the vehicle. In addition, there was a post-crash fire," Malloy said. "This made understanding some of the details of the crash very difficult."

Malloy declined to say whether officials had apologized to the boy's family, but said victims' loved ones had been made aware of the preliminary report prior to its release.