College Station, TX – Texas A&M redshirt freshman Polo Manukainiu and incoming Utah recruit Gaius Vaenuku were among three passengers killed in a one-car accident in New Mexico on Monday.
Texas A&M has confirmed the death of the 19-year-old Manukainiu, a native of Euless, TX who was a reserve defensive lineman for the Aggies. Vaenuku, 18, was Manukainiu's former teammate at Trinity High School and was set to join the Utes' program this summer.
"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."
A report from the New Mexico State Police stated that both Manukainiu and Vaenuku were two of five people traveling south on U.S. Highway 550 in Sandoval County in a 2002 Toyota Sequoia that drifted off the roadway and rolled several times. Manukainiu and another passenger, Andrew Uhatafe, were each ejected from the vehicle and died instantly. Vaenuku was transported from the scene in an ambulance but was pronounced dead on arrival to San Juan Regional hospital.
Both the car's driver and another passenger sustained minor injuries. Police said alcohol was not a factor in the crash.
Aggies quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel also offered his condolences to Manukainiu's family via Twitter on Tuesday.
"Heart hurts waking up to news about Polo. I think I speak for everyone on our team when I say we love you brother you will be missed," Manziel tweeted.