Aggies are mourning the loss of an Texas A&M football player and student, whose life was tragically cut short Monday night in a car crash in the New Mexico desert.
Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Polo Manukainiu, 19, was traveling with four friends 90 miles north of Albuquerque when the driver of the group's 2002 Toyota SUV lost control. Manukainiu and passenger Andrew Uhatafe were ejected from the vehicle as it rolled several times. Both died at the scene.
Gaius Vaenuku, who was set to join the University of Utah football team, was pronounced dead in an ambulance shortly thereafter. Salesi Uhatafe — the driver and only person wearing a seatbelt — survived the crash along with his son Salesi Uhatafe, Jr., who is Manukainiu's stepbrother.
"Heart hurts waking up to news about Polo," tweeted teammate Johnny Manziel.
Fatigue, not alcohol, is believed to have caused the accident.
“22 hour drive back to Texas on no sleep. Oh my,” Manukainiu tweeted Monday afternoon as the five returned to the Dallas suburb of Euless after a trip to Salt Lake City. The message garnered several responses urging the group to rest.
A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin remembers Manukainiu as a "terrific young man" who was loved by his teammates. "Anyone who came in contact with him was struck by his sense of humor and smile," Sumlin says in a statement.
"Heart hurts waking up to news about Polo," tweeted teammate Johnny Manziel on Tuesday only days before fall practice is scheduled to begin. "I think I speak for everyone on our team when I say we love you brother you will be missed."
News of the accident comes less than two years after Texas A&M offensive lineman Joseph Villavisencio died in a car accident near College Station after working at a local shelter in December 2011.