The Texas A&M and University of Utah football programs are mourning the loss of members of their respective communities Tuesday.
Polo Manukainiu, a 19-year-old redshirt freshman at A&M, and Gaius “Keio” Vaenuku, an 18-year-old incoming freshman at Utah, were among three teens killed in a car wreck, according to The Associated Press.
Another incoming freshman football player for Utah, Salesi Uhatafe, survived the accident, which happened on U.S. 550 in Cuba, N.M.
“We lost a terrific young man,” Texas A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin told The AP. “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.”
According to a police report, Manukainiu and Vaenuku were passengers in the 2002 Toyota Sequoia that drifted off of the road before rolling over several times. Two young men in the car were transported to a hospital with minor injuries while another passenger, Andrew Uhatafe, died at the scene.
“Everyone who knew Gaius is heartbroken today,” said Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham in a statement, regarding the loss of Vaenuku. “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.”
Officials said alcohol wasn’t involved.
Photo via Facebook/Polo Eteaki Manukainiu