Utah player killed in single-car accident

July, 30, 2013
7/30/13
1:35
PM ET
Sad news out of Salt Lake City this morning with the report that a freshman from Utah and a redshirt freshman from Texas A&M were among three people killed in a single-car accident Monday night in New Mexico.

Gaius "Keio" Vaenuku was an incoming freshman defensive tackle for the Utes and Polo Manukainiu was a redshirt freshman defensive lineman for Texas A&M. Andrew Uhatafe, 13, was also killed.

Here are some details from Mark Schlabach's story:
New Mexico State Police said the accident occurred when the driver over-corrected and the vehicle rolled several times. Police said alcohol wasn't a factor and it appears the driver was the only one in the car wearing a seatbelt.

Police said Manukainiu and Uhatafe were ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene. Vaenuku was transported from the scene, but was pronounced dead in an ambulance while en route to a hospital.

Another incoming Utah freshman and passenger in the car -- offensive tackle Salesi Uhatafe -- survived, as did his father, Salesi Sr. Uhatafe is Manukainiu's stepbrother and Andrew "Lolo" Uhatafe's brother.

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham released a statement Tuesday morning.

"Everyone who knew Gaius is heartbroken today," Whittingham said. "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. This is a sad day not only for University of Utah football, but for everyone whose lives Gaius crossed or would have crossed but for this tragedy. Our hearts go out to Gaius' and Salesi's families, and to the Texas A&M coaches and players. We are praying for the speedy recovery of Salesi and his father."

The college football players were all graduates of Trinity High School in Euless, Texas.

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