Texas A&M redshirt freshman and defensive lineman Polo Manukainiu, age 19, was killed in a single car accident Monday afternoon just north of Cuba, New Mexico. Unfortunately, Manukainiu was not the only victim of the accident. Two other teens, Andrew “Lolo” Uhatafe (Polo’s 13 year old brother) and Gaius Vaenuku, an incoming freshman for the Utah Utes football team, were also killed. Aside from these three teens, there were two survivors of the wreck: Salesi Uhatafe, another incoming freshman for the Utah Utes, and Salesi Uhatafe Sr.
According to a report from KRQE News in Albuquerque, New Mexico police are still investigating as to the cause of the crash. It is suspected that the driver of the vehicle veered off-road and then over-corrected the vehicle, resulting in the vehicle rolling over. There is no evidence thus far that alcohol is involved in causing the accident. However, a tweet made by Polo two hours prior to the accident may shed some light as to one factor of the accident. According to said tweet, the passengers of the vehicle were traveling on little to no sleep:
The news of Manukainiu’s death has deeply affected the campus of Texas A&M, a school that saw the death of two cadets earlier this year from an automobile accident, as well as the deaths of a football and basketball player in 2011 and 2010, respectively. Texas A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin released the following statement concerning Manukainiu’s death: “We lost a terrific young man. 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.”
Polo’s teammate and 2012-13 Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel, subject of recent controversy surrounding a frat party, also spoke out about the accident through his Twitter account:
Despite this loss, Texas A&M is anticipating another successful season after going 11-2 last year and defeating Alabama, the only team to defeat the National Champions last year. The team is expected to report to training camp on Sunday, with practices beginning on Monday.