Texas A&M redshirt freshman defensive lineman Polo Manukainiu (pronounced mah-NEW-ky-a-new) was killed in a one-vehicle rollover accident on U.S. Highway 550 in Sandoval County in New Mexico on Monday, July 29 at 6:52 p.m. mountain time.
According to the report from the New Mexico State Police, he was a passenger in a 2002 Toyota Sequoia traveling south on U.S. 550 and the vehicle drifted off of the roadway and the driver over corrected and the vehicle rolled several times. Manukainiu and another passenger, Andrew Uhatafe, were ejected from the vehicle and deceased at the scene. Gaius Vaenuku, an incoming member of the Utah football team, was transported from the scene of the accident but was pronounced deceased in the ambulance. The driver and a fifth passenger were transported to San Juan Regional Hospital after sustaining minor injuries. Alcohol was not involved and it appears the driver was the only one wearing a seat belt.
"We lost a terrific young man," Texas A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin said. "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."
Manukainiu, 19, was a recreation, parks and tourism science major and he is survived by his mother, Lima Uhatafe of Euless. Manukainiu helped Trinity High School to an undefeated regular season and the state playoffs in 2011 as an all-district defensive end and was a four-star recruit according to ESPN.
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