Former Colorado junior golfer dies in crash of college golf team’s van in west Texas

By Gary Baines – 3/17/2022

Jackson Zinn of Westminster, a 2018 graduate of Ralston Valley High School, was one of the nine people killed Tuesday night in a high-speed head-on crash involving the University of the Southwest golf teams.

Zinn and five other University of Southwest golfers, plus coach Tyler James, died when their school van and a pickup truck collided in west Texas. Also perishing were two people in the other vehicle, which crossed the center line. The pickup then crashed into the school van, which carried members of the Southwest men’s and women’s golf teams, according to Texas Department of Public Safety authorities. The driver of the truck and his 13-year-old son also died, the National Transportation Safety Board reported.

The golf teams were traveling on a two-land road from a college tournament in Midland, Texas. The second day of the event, scheduled for Wednesday, was subsequently canceled.

Jackson Zinn. posted a statement it said was written by a friend on behalf of the Zinn family, distributed on Facebook and released on Wednesday:

“It is with the heaviest heart that I write this post on behalf of Greg Zinn, Jennifer Jackson Zinn, Audrey and Avery Zinn. Last night at 8:15, the Zinn family lost their son, brother, friend and amazing human, Jackson Zinn in a tragic crash in West Texas,” Heather Simms Schichtel wrote. “Jackson was coming back from a golf tournament with his golf team from the University of the Southwest in New Mexico when a truck swerved and hit the van the team was traveling in. Devastated does not do justice. 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. Rumor has it he is playing golf with Jesus, and winning. The MISS that this amazing person leaves behind is palpable. Please hold the Zinn family close in your hearts during this incredibly difficult time.”

The NTSB sent an investigative team to the site of the crash.

Zinn, 22, was a junior on the Hobbs, N.M.-based Southwest men’s squad and had previously attended New Mexico Military Institute. According to his bio on the Southwest golf website, he earned 2017 first-team all-conference honors while in high school.

Zinn competed in a smattering of Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado events from 2016 to ’18, finishing 31st in the 2018 Colorado Junior Amateur. He also won a Rocky Mountain Junior Golf Tour event.

(About the Writer: Gary Baines has covered golf in Colorado continuously since 1983. He was a sports writer at the Daily Camera newspaper in Boulder, then the sports editor there, and has written regularly for since 2009. He was voted into the Colorado Golf Hall of Fame in 2021. Email: