Utah Utes football: Gaius 'Keio' Vaenuku killed in accident, second player injured


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    July 31, 2013 8:20 p.m.

    Duckhunter, agreed, man. In the middle of a cross-country drive myself, it's almost too sobering to think about, and makes me pray for and be thankful for my own safety.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    July 31, 2013 7:31 p.m.

    This is even sadder with a day to think about it. Such a tragedy. I feel terrible for the friends and families of these young men.

  • AZ Hakaman Chandler, AZ
    July 31, 2013 1:43 p.m.

    I guess if you are a native Hawaiian, your comment is unauthorized. Native Hawaiian does not have swear words like Tongan or Samoan does, so stop freaking out DN:

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    Auwe. So sad. But thank goodness for the Great Plan of Happiness. Our ho'omaika╩╗i no na ╩╗ohana.

  • byufanman west valley city, utah
    July 31, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    A traggic loss. My thoughts and prayers goes out to the family and friends of this young man. As well to the ute football team.

    July 31, 2013 10:51 a.m.

    What a very sad situation. These young men had their whole lives ahead of them. This cougar fan's thoughts and prayers are with Utenation on this sad occasion.

  • CA. reader Rocklin, CA
    July 31, 2013 7:57 a.m.

    I have not read all the comments so I may be repeating a sentiment already expressed.

    I hope every young person who reads this article will focus on the fact that these young people were not wearing their seat belts. It does not matter how big you are, how strong you are, how much weight you can bench press, how fast you can run the 40, if you do not wear your seat belt and you car rolls over you will be severly injured if not killed. By simply wearing their seat belts we would be reading about injuries, probably some quite serious, but we would be praying for their recovery and return to activity instead of expressing our regrets at their deaths.

  • CougarSunDevil Phoenix, AZ
    July 31, 2013 7:43 a.m.

    This isn't good. My heart goes out to those involved, their families, and the entire Ute nation. God Bless you all.

  • Top5Alive salt lake city, UT
    July 31, 2013 5:39 a.m.

    So sad, i keep watching these clips of Gaius 'Keio' Vaenuku. How awesome of a football player he was. also watched his family here in utah in their comments of tv. What a great guy man.

  • Cougar Claws Lindon, UT
    July 31, 2013 12:04 a.m.

    Very sad story. It's kind of scary to think that things like this just happen out of nowhere. I think about my own life and wonder if I'd be ready to go if it happened to me.
    Life is just too short and valuable to worry about things that really don't matter.

    I like the idea of the moment of silence for this year's rivalry game. I hope fans on both sides can just have fun and enjoy the game. I'm sure that is what this young man would have wanted. I wish the families well and hope we can all just try to enjoy life and focus more on the things that matter most.

  • fred Vaenuku san mateo, ca
    July 30, 2013 11:11 p.m.

    Our family is very sad to say good bye to Gaius, I was looking forward to watching him play for Utah but more important seeing him go on his mission, I never did got to see him play in high school and I told him last month in our family reunion in San Francisco that I will definitely come over to Utah to root for him. How i wish that I can turn back the time so I can just see him play.
    The Vaenuku family wants to thank all of you for your prayers and comments about Gaius. We are sad that we are no longer with him but grateful for the Plan of Salvation to know that he still lives on. One lesson I learn from this do not procrastinate and time is very short. Ofa Atu

  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    July 30, 2013 10:58 p.m.

    Mr. Red - now over 30 years ago, Steve Young was driving UT to CT and a similar sleep incident caused a fatality. We remember it, and it's easy to feel the pain for the UoU and TAMU. I hope this young driver has family and friends to help him through it. Condolences to all involved.

  • NeilT Clearfield, UT
    July 30, 2013 10:46 p.m.

    Tragic. Unfortunately an oft repeated scenario. SUV drifts off the road, driver overcorrects, vehicle rolls. Only the driver was wearing a seatbelt. Drives ED should do more to teach drivers how to avoid tragedies like this. SUVs are not a car and don't handle like a car. My condolences to the families.

  • Ute parents - me Cougar Rathdrum, ID
    July 30, 2013 10:26 p.m.

    He is now on his mission, just on the other side.
    Your family will hug you again Elder Vaenuku.

  • Rockarolla West Jordan, UT
    July 30, 2013 10:20 p.m.

    When things like this happen it puts the BYU and Utah rivalry where it belongs...way way down our lists. Good to see so many good comments from both sides. May the lord bless those who have lost loved ones and may the Holy Spirit comfort them. And may the comfort be shared with all the coaches, players and fans of the Utes and Texas A&M families.

  • sammyg Springville, UT
    July 30, 2013 10:15 p.m.

    My deepest sympathies to the family, friends and to UteNation for this tragic loss.

    I drive 50,000 + miles a year for my company. We are constantly reminded of the dangers of driving. This is a terrible way to be reminded by reading these kinds of stories. It's just mind numbing.

    Everyone take a moment and reflect on your driving situations and be safe out there.

  • MrRed Salt Lake City, UT
    July 30, 2013 10:11 p.m.

    The Ute-Cougar Rivalry to me has always been a lot of fun...Nasty at times, but never really vicious, or full of genuine hatred. It s like the rivalry between Cal and Stanford, UCLA and USC and Illinois and Northwestern.

    Although I am a fan of the University of Utah...and I always express how much I hate BYU...I like to see that both Utes and Cougar fans can come together, without animosity, to express sorrow at the deaths of these young gentlemen.

  • Kelliebelle66 West Jordan, UT
    July 30, 2013 9:13 p.m.

    I am glad to see the fans of various rival universities coming together to mourn the loss of these exceptional and talented young men. My heart goes out to their families, friends and associates. They must be suffering terribly at this time. I lost a friend in high school to drowsy driving. It made a huge impression on me. Please, please, please if you feel tired pull over in a safe place and even better plan ahead to rest prior to a trip and make planned stops. This is so tragic. I do not want this to happen to any other drivers and their families. This is not meant to be a criticism to the victims in any way. Everyone is already suffering enough.

  • CougarOnTheProwl Murray, UT
    July 30, 2013 8:06 p.m.

    Very sad and tragic for the young men that were killed and the families involved. Thoughts and prayers go out to those families at this time

  • Duh west jordan, ut
    July 30, 2013 7:56 p.m.

    Heart felt condolences for the family and the U of U. I have enjoyed the comments showing compassion from both sides. This is definitely a time to put aside the petty differences that we have to support a loving family and the U of U for losing a great young man.

  • wwookie Payson, UT
    July 30, 2013 6:17 p.m.

    Tragic accident. Prayers going out to the families involved. Hope the family can find comfort in knowing how beloved this young man was by so many.

  • SSmith Salt Lake City, UT
    July 30, 2013 5:41 p.m.

    Our heartfelt prayers to the families. What a tragedy when young people with such a bright future are taken in death.

  • oldcougar Orem, UT
    July 30, 2013 5:20 p.m.

    Thoughts and prayers to Utes and Aggies...and mostly to the families of these young men. Although I can feel tears welling up as I type this, I'm also encouraged by the brotherhood inspired by the tragic deaths of these young men. Thanks to all.

  • just-a-fan Bountiful, UT
    July 30, 2013 5:19 p.m.


  • thebigsamoan Richmond, VA
    July 30, 2013 4:41 p.m.

    What a terrible and tragic loss of such young promising lives! May God's love gives comfort and peace to the grieving family and the Ute nation as a whole. My deepest sympathies and condolences to all of them. May the all rest in peace!

    From a Cougar faithful, Go Utes!!!

    July 30, 2013 4:27 p.m.

    The article reminds us that there are great young people everywhere and the death or absence of just one affects us all!

    Deepest condolences to all those directly affected by this loss and best wishes for Uhatafe to be able to live on to his highest potential. May family, friends and teammates find the comfort they need to turn the loss of these three young men into something of value in their lives.

  • RockOn Spanish Fork, UT
    July 30, 2013 4:01 p.m.

    Horrible. Just horrible. Very sad for them, their families and the friends and coaches they had. Tough loss. Heart goes out to the Ute fans. Keeps the rivalries in perspective.

  • esodije ALBUQUERQUE, NM
    July 30, 2013 3:32 p.m.

    Have driven that road (US 550) many times going to, or coming home from, Utah. Now that it's a four-lane (but generally not divided) highway, the biggest worry there is usually drunk drivers (and New Mexico has a lot of them); unfortunately, however, many a drowsy driver has met a cruel fate along that route as well. Here's hoping that the families may find comfort in thoughts of a glorious reunion in the herafter.

  • RepresentBlue West Jordan, UT
    July 30, 2013 3:07 p.m.

    What a horrible tragedy! My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of these young men. May the Lord encircle them in the arms of His love during their grief.

  • Chris from Rose Park Hartford, CT
    July 30, 2013 2:51 p.m.

    Tragic news. My condolences and prayers to the families. May God bless them with comfort in a time of loss.

  • Perkunas Ashburn, VA
    July 30, 2013 2:46 p.m.

    Deepest condolences to the families, friends, and teammates from this devout Cougar fan. Life is too precious to get consumed by athletic rivalries.

    July 30, 2013 2:31 p.m.

    Very, very sad news! Our hearts go out to Vaenuku's family and the others who were involved in this tragic accident.

  • Hailstorm is a coming Riverdale, UT
    July 30, 2013 2:17 p.m.

    Thank you for your compassion toward a Ute recruit.

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    July 30, 2013 2:15 p.m.

    "On Sept 21 at Lavell Edwards Stadium I hope that we can all come together and have a moment of silence and prayer before the game."

    I think that is a very good idea. This is a loss, certainly to Ute Nation and the families of these honorable young men, but also a loss of a future missionary preparing for his selfless service in the field. RIP Keio, Cougar Nation mourns your loss and our prayers and faith go out to your family and friends, as well as those of the Uhatafe family with the loss of their 13 yr old son and brother. Football seems so meaningless when life reminds us how insignificant it really is. My heart and prayers go out to all my Ute brothers today.

  • SamoanYfan WEST JORDAN, UT
    July 30, 2013 2:04 p.m.

    Condolences to the Vaenuku family. Very sad news. Thoughts and prayers are with them.

  • Who am I sir? Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 30, 2013 1:26 p.m.

    We, as Ute fans, share the grief of such a tragic event. May the families take pride in the love that so many felt towards these fine men. I, along with so many, was sadden when Polo committed to Texas A & M. We were elated when Gaius "Kuio" and Salesi joined our football family. Yes, we looked forward them as football players; however, as these comments show, we also looked forward to them being teammates, friends, and fellow students. We pray for peace and blessings on the families at this time and R.I.P. Gaius, Polo, and Lolo!

    July 30, 2013 1:05 p.m.

    Terrible tragedy. Condolences to everyone that knew any of those killed.

    Please, please be careful driving and wear your seatbelts.

  • motorbike Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 30, 2013 12:28 p.m.

    Absolutely horrible news. Thoughts and prayers to his family and loved ones.

  • VegasUte Las Vegas, NV
    July 30, 2013 12:18 p.m.

    Horribly sad news for those families, friends and for the U and TAMU. I can only imagine the loss felt by Salesi and his father. Such a tragic loss. Puts everything into perspective.

  • Tom in CA Vallejo, CA
    July 30, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    Devastating news - best to the immediate, and Ute family.

    July 30, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    A sad day for Utah football! My heart and prayers go out to his family, the U of U football team, and the Ute fans. You never like to hear about any football team losing a great teammate and person like this.

  • SMS Salt Lake City, UT
    July 30, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    Sad, sad news. Vaenuku sounds like he was not only an exceptional football player, but an exceptional young man. Tragic his life had to end so soon. Thoughts and prayers.

  • WJCoug South Jordan, Utah
    July 30, 2013 12:16 p.m.

    Condolences to the families of these two young men. I cannot imagine the heartache of having to bury your son, although the gospel does give hope and understanding as to why such tragic things happen. Condolences to Kyle Whittingham, his coaching staff and players as well. I can only imagine how difficult it must be . . .

  • sid 6.7 Holladay, UT
    July 30, 2013 12:12 p.m.

    This is so sad on so many different levels. May God bless the Ute and A&M programs and may he provide peace and comfort to the families of these young men during this difficult time. Godspeed boys and may you Rest In Peace.

    To the Aggie and Cougar fans posting here thanks for your well wishes and your class. Like one Cougar fan wrote I too hope that before both the games with the Cougars and Aggies the teams can come together for a moment of silence for these young men. The rivalries may be intense at times but that is because you don't want to loose to your brother. In the end isn't that what these boys are? Brothers, Son's, Uncle's, Cousin's and Father's. Their all good and who they play for dose nothing to take away from that.

    I pray God will watch over all of the players of our great state and keep them healthy and free from harm during this season.

    Go Cougars!
    Go Aggies!
    Go Ute's!

  • Uteology East Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 30, 2013 12:08 p.m.

    A horrible tragedy for any family to endure. Including the gridiron families of the Ute and Aggie Nation.


  • Coach Biff Lehi, UT
    July 30, 2013 12:04 p.m.

    This is just tragic. Coug fan here wishing all of Ute nation a speedy healing. Our prayers are with you.

  • let's roll LEHI, UT
    July 30, 2013 11:53 a.m.


    Agreed. I will be at LES for the game and regardless of whether or not there is a formal moment of silence for this young man (and the others who died), I know I will stand and have a moment of silence and a silent prayer in his honor.

    That which unites us should be so much stronger and deeper than the silly things that divide us.

  • Spider Rico Greeley, CO
    July 30, 2013 11:36 a.m.

    Sad news. Prayers and condolences to all involved

  • Aggie238 Logan, UT
    July 30, 2013 11:19 a.m.

    This is very sad. I wish the best to the families, friends, and teams of these boys.

  • aggfan77 Shire, 00
    July 30, 2013 11:14 a.m.

    To the families and Ute Nation involved in this tragedy! God bless you all!!!! You are in our hearts!!!!

  • Wookie Omaha, NE
    July 30, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    Godspeed! and God Bless the friends and family of those loved and lost.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    July 30, 2013 11:09 a.m.

    This is sad news. Please, please, please don't try to drive while drowsy. It's better to arrive somewhere late than not at all.

  • Malihini Northern, UT
    July 30, 2013 10:59 a.m.

    On Sept 21 at Lavell Edwards Stadium I hope that we can all come together and have a moment of silence and prayer before the game.

  • Cougsndawgs West Point , UT
    July 30, 2013 10:48 a.m.

    It's always difficult and sad to hear of anyone losing their life, but when they are so young and have so much ahead of them it seems to hurt more. My deepest condolences to the families, players, and coaches at Utah & Texas A&M who lost brothers, cousins, friends and teammates. Glad to hear that Uhatafe will be ok physically, but my heart aches for the psychological pain he will experience. My prayers are with him.

  • Reno Cougs Fan 68 Reno, NV
    July 30, 2013 10:44 a.m.

    Very sad news!!! Our hearts and prayers go out to all involved in the Ute Nation and beyond
    These young men will be missed by all family, friends, teammates, classmates, and others!!!

    Go Cougs!!!
    Go Utes!!!

  • Rockwell Baltimore, MD
    July 30, 2013 10:40 a.m.

    A Monday morning Twitter post by Manukainio indicated that drowsiness may have been a factor. The Tweet read: "22 hour drive back to Texas on no sleep. Oh my."

    Far too often, drowsy driving is a factor in these tragic accidents.

    Condolences to the families and friends of these young men.

  • technonerd7 orem, ut
    July 30, 2013 10:36 a.m.

    This Cougar fan is sending well wishes to the families involved and the University of Utah family. May you find peace on this sad day.

  • nairbnosral American Fork, UT
    July 30, 2013 10:23 a.m.

    So tragic. And it makes the Red/Blue rivalry seem petty and silly in comparison. Football 5th? Maybe 5th ranks too high as well...

  • Tomahawk Red North Salt Lake, UT
    July 30, 2013 10:23 a.m.


    Duckhunter, thanks for the classy words.

  • ekute Layton, UT
    July 30, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    Brings things into Perspective.
    Prayers and Blessings to those involved and those who mourn.

  • AZUTE1 Mesa, AZ
    July 30, 2013 9:49 a.m.

    1 bright spot in this horrible tragedy is that Uhatafe has thankfully been released from the hospital.

  • Uteanymous Salt Lake City, Utah
    July 30, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    Condolences to the families and friends - my heartfelt prayers for you to be comforted in this time of trial.

  • skywalker Palo Alto, CA
    July 30, 2013 9:37 a.m.

    A very sad day for the families and friends of these young men. My heart-felt prayers and condolences to all who have cause to mourn this day because of this tragic accident.

  • Hunt Spanish Fork, UT
    July 30, 2013 9:22 a.m.

    My heart goes out to all those effected by this terribly tragic event. You will be in my prayers.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    July 30, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    What aweful news, very tragic. It makes me sad to think about the families that are having to endure this and all the possibilities lost for these young people. Just a terrible thing to hear.

  • Riverton Cougar Riverton, UT
    July 30, 2013 9:16 a.m.

    This is the worst news a family can receive. Especially being involved in athletics, they have many close friends and teammates mourning their loss as well. Here's hoping that Uhatafe pulls through.

  • Malihini Northern, UT
    July 30, 2013 9:13 a.m.

    Thoughts and prayers go out to all of those who have lost a loved in this accident. Terrible and tragic news. Blessings upon you all...

  • Hailstorm is a coming Riverdale, UT
    July 30, 2013 8:58 a.m.

    My heartfelt and sincere condolences are extended to the family, friends , and loved ones of this fine young man. My prayers are with them in this time of sorrow, and I sincerely hope that, the one in critical condition is able to pull through. I know they wanted to continue playing together on the same college team. I grieve for them and their parents.It is one of life's major injustices to have a parent outlive their child.Today I hurt , not because of UTE football , but to have such a trauma cast upon the loved ones of these student-athletes cut down in the prime of youth. A sad day indeed .

  • jdub1942 PROVO, UT
    July 30, 2013 8:52 a.m.

    Horrible, horrible news. 3 lives lost, and one in critical condition. I just finished a road trip of my own this past weekend, on full rest, hopefully this story will prevent someone else from drowsy driving. Prayers go out to the family and friends!

  • BlueCoug Orem, UT
    July 30, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    Condolences to the players' families and to their Utah family. Our prayers are with their families as they cope with this tragic situation.

  • Cool Cat Cosmo Payson, UT
    July 30, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    Our prayers are with the families of both players, and I certainly hope that Salesi manages to
    recover. A sad day for all football fans in the state.

  • Love skiing Salt Lake City, UT
    July 30, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    This is real sad news. My heart goes out to all of their families.

    July 30, 2013 8:30 a.m.

    This is heartbreaking. I can't imagine how the players' families must be grieving at this time, as well as the team about to head into camp. I was friends with Chelsey Peterson in high school, who went on to run track at BYU and was killed in an accident her freshman year, I believe, and it was devastating on the community. I pray that Uhatafe will pull through. Heaven got a blue chipper today.