HONOLULU (AP) — Brigham Young University offensive lineman Sione Veikoso was killed in a construction accident in his hometown in Hawaii, family members said.
Veikoso, 22, died Friday after a retaining wall he was helping repair during holiday break from school collapsed, his family confirmed. The Honolulu Fire Department reported that three others were injured when the 15-foot (4.5-meter) rock wall partially fell behind a home in Kailua, which is about 12 miles (19 kilometers) northeast of Honolulu.
“He was a gentle giant who loved his family. He was reliable and caring,” Veikoso’s cousin Joshua Kava said in a written statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
The 6-foot-7 (2-meter), 305-pound (138-kilogram) lineman had completed his first season at BYU, where he transferred after one year at Arizona State, while retaining four years of eligibility.
Firefighters arrived at the home just before noon Friday to find the collapsed wall and bystanders using a small excavator to remove rocks trapping the men. Rescuers called them off because of the wall’s instability and manually removed rocks to free two of the men in about 15 minutes. But Veikoso was trapped deeper. He was removed at about 12:30 p.m. and was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:35 p.m.
The homeowner told authorities she was having the stone wall repaired. A total of six people were at the scene. One man escaped the rubble before firefighters arrived but refused treatment and two were uninjured.
“Rest in Love Sione. God be with you till we meet again,” BYU football said in a tweet.
After high school, Veikoso spent two years as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Manaus, Brazil, before enrolling in college.