Texas A&M officials are confirming the death of redshirt freshman football player Polo Manukainiu.
According to A&M officials citing New Mexico State Police, five people were in an SUV Monday night travelling on US 550 north of the village of Cuba, which is northwest of Albuquerque. The vehicle went off the road shortly before 7:00 p.m. Mountain Time, overcorrected and rolled multiple times.
Manukainiu, a 19-year-old defensive lineman who was a passenger, was among the dead, along with his cousin, Utah freshman football player Gaius Vaenuku, and another cousin, Andrew Uhatafe. Manukainiu and Uhatafe were reportedly ejected in the crash. KSL-TV in Salt Lake City is reporting the family relationships of the three.
The vehicle’s driver — the only person believed by authorities to be wearing a seat belt — and a fifth person in the vehicle were transported to a local hospital with what were described as minor injuries.
“We lost a terrific young man,” Texas A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin said of Manukainiu in a statement Tuesday. “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.”
Euless Trinity High School posted the following on their website:
“As we mourn the loss of three members of our Trinity family, we invite you to use this page as a place to share thoughts about Gaius Vaenuku (THS Class of 2013), Polo Manukainiu (THS Class of 2012), and Lolo Uhatafe (Euless Junior High student), along with support for Salesi Uhatafe (THS Class of 2013). All messages must be approved before they will appear, but we look forward to posting as many comments as possible.”
Manukainiu sat out his first season as an Aggie but was expected to play in the coming season. He was a Euless Trinity High School graduate who helped lead the Trojans to an undefeated regular season as a senior.
According to his Aggie Athletics bio, he was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN and 247sports.com coming out of high school.
Manukainiu was a recreation, parks and tourism sciences major.
At 12:32 p.m. Monday, Polo sent his last message on Twitter noting he was about to travel
COURTESY KBTX-TV BRYAN