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Freshmen for Texas A&M, Utah killed in car accident

polo manukainiu

There is, unfortunately, some tragic news for the Texas A&M and Utah programs today.

Aggies redshirt freshman Polo Manukainiu (pictured) and incoming Utes freshman Gaius Vaenuku were killed in a car accident in New Mexico Monday evening, the schools confirmed in separate statements. They were just 19 and 18 years old, respectively.

“We lost a terrific young man,” Texas A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin said of Manukainiu. “Polo was loved by his teammates and coaches. Anyone who came in contact with him was struck by his sense of humor and smile. My heart aches for his mom and family members.”

“Everyone who knew Gaius is heartbroken today,” said Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham in a release. “He was the kind of young man who lit up a room and his future in football and life had no boundaries. Words cannot express our devastation over the loss of Gaius.”

Another passenger, 13-year-old Lolo Uhatafe, was also killed. Another incoming Utes lineman, Salesi Uhatafe, was injured in the wreck. Salesi’s father also survived. Lolo was Salesi’s brother, Manukainiu his stepbrother.

Here’s a portion of the A&M release that details, at least partially, what happened:

According to the report from the New Mexico State Police, he was a passenger in a 2002 Toyota Sequoia traveling south on U.S. 550 and the vehicle drifted off of the roadway and the driver over corrected and the vehicle rolled several times. Manukainiu and another passenger, Andrew Uhatafe, were ejected from the vehicle and deceased at the scene. Gaius Vaenuku, an incoming member of the Utah football team, was transported from the scene of the accident but was pronounced deceased in the ambulance. The driver and a fifth passenger were transported to San Juan Regional Hospital after sustaining minor injuries. Alcohol was not involved and it appears the driver was the only one wearing a seat belt.

Manukainiu and Vaenuku and Uhatafe played at Euless Trinity High School in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex.

Though the cause of the accident is still under investigation — alcohol is not believed to be involved, but it appears the driver was the only one wearing a seat belt — Manukainiu did tweet the following on Monday: “22 hour drive back to Texas on no sleep. Oh my

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected.

(Picture via Texas A&M)  

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11 Responses to “Freshmen for Texas A&M, Utah killed in car accident”
  1. thegamecocker says: Jul 30, 2013 1:04 PM

    Puts things in perspective. May they both RIP. Terribly sad day. The Gamecocker

  2. 8to80texansblog says: Jul 30, 2013 1:06 PM

    Wow….. This is just terrible. My heart really goes out to those families.

  3. kiopta1 says: Jul 30, 2013 1:18 PM

    May The Lord be with them and their loved ones.

  4. raysfan1 says: Jul 30, 2013 1:20 PM

    Horrible and tragic. One can only pray for the survivors and the families.

    The description above makes fatigue/falling asleep at the wheel seem a likely explanation. I’ve seen the results of that too often in my line of work. Please, everyone, plan adequate rest into your trip. Risking life and limb to get home a day earlier is not worth it. (…and wear your seatbelt.)

  5. tuckfexas says: Jul 30, 2013 1:36 PM

    Seat belts save lives

  6. raiderufan says: Jul 30, 2013 1:49 PM

    Wow…terribly sad to hear.

    Way way to young.

  7. florida727 says: Jul 30, 2013 2:22 PM

    First and foremost, thoughts and prayers to the families involved, both actual and their “football families”. There are often a lot more people affected by something like this than any of us realize. It’s a sad day for Aggie and Utes fans.

    To echo #raysfan’s and #tuckfexas’ comments though, seat belts are a must. I remember reading an article once that said if you do anything 22 days in a row, it becomes a “habit”. I wish we could get kids, especially ones that have just gotten their licenses, into the habit of buckling up. Now I feel like like I forgot something if I don’t buckle mine. It’s a shame, but it really is that simple, make it a habit.

  8. tlmoon2112 says: Jul 30, 2013 3:13 PM

    Having lost a child of my own, I can sympathize with these folks in a very real way. Praying for their families for peace and comfort.

  9. thegamecocker says: Jul 30, 2013 4:28 PM

    Question: Why would anyone hit “THUMBS DOWN” for any comment on this post? Are some of you sick? Well I know Paul Hargis is sick but besides that asshole, anyone else? That’s really sad…….

  10. thefiesty1 says: Jul 30, 2013 7:14 PM

    Awful news. My heart goes out to the families.

  11. dkhhuey says: Jul 30, 2013 7:30 PM

    Horrible news – just plain horrible! Condolences to their family and friends!

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