Texas A&M defensive lineman Polo Manukainiu, a redshirt freshman, and Gaius Vaenuku, an incoming freshman defensive tackle at Utah, were killed in a rollover accident near Cuba, N.M according to Texas A&M University officials. A third person in the car, Andrew Uhatafe, 13, also was killed.
Manukainiu was driving back to Texas when the accident occurred. He had posted the following tweet on his account earlier in the morning:
“22 hour drive back to Texas on no sleep. Oh my”
The New Mexico State Patrol said its officers responded to a single-car rollover accident involving a white Toyota Sequoia SUV shortly before 9 p.m. ET Monday at mile marker 83 on U.S. 550, about 80 miles north of Albuquerque.
“We lost a terrific young man,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said in a statement. “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.”
New Mexico State Police said the accident occurred when the driver over-corrected and the vehicle rolled several times. Police said alcohol wasn’t a factor and it appears the driver was the only one in the car wearing a seat belt.
Police said Manukainiu and Uhatafe were ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. Vaenuku was transported from the scene, but was pronounced dead in an ambulance on the way to the hospital.