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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M redshirt freshman football player dies in car accident

Texas A&M redshirt freshman defensive lineman Polo Manukainiu was killed late Monday night in a car accident in New Mexico, according to a press release from the A&M athletic department.
In the release the New Mexico State Police report states that at 6:52 p.m., the 2002 Toyota Sequoia that Manukainiu was riding in as a passenger was involved in a one-car rollover accident on U.S. Highway 550 in Sandoval County, New Mexico.
The vehicle, which was carrying five people, drifted off the roadway. The driver over corrected, which resulted in the vehicle rolling several times. Manukainiu was ejected from the car and died at the scene.
“We lost a terrific young man,” Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said in a statement released by the athletic department. “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.”
Alcohol was not involved in the accident, but the driver was the only person wearing a seatbelt at the time of the rollover.
At 12:32 p.m. Monday Manukainiu tweeted that he was making the long trip back to Texas.
“22 hour drive back to Texas on no sleep. Oh my,” he said.
Gaius Vaenuku, an incoming member of the Utah football team, was also in the vehicle. Manukainiu and Vaenuku played high school football together at Euless Trinity High School.
The two players were four-star recruits according to ESPN who helped Trinity reach an undefeated regular season and make an appearance at the state playoffs in 2011 when Manukainui was also an all-district player.
The players were driving back to Texas for one last week at home before fall practices began for their respective college teams.
Texas A&M players and fans took to Twitter early Monday upon hearing the news of Manukainiu’s passing to express their condolences.
“Heart hurts waking up to news about Polo..,” quarterback Johnny Manziel said via Twitter. “I think I speak for everyone on our team when I say we love you brother you will be missed.”
Manukainiu, 19, was a recreation, parks and tourism sciences major and is survived by his mother Lima Uhatafe of Euless.

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