College football player dies after wall collapses in Hawaii

For The Associated Press

A football player from Brigham Young University, in the state of Utah, died in a construction accident in his hometown in Hawaii, his relatives reported.

Sione Veikoso, 22, passed away on Friday after a retaining wall he was helping to repair collapsed during school holidays, his family confirmed.

The Honolulu Fire Department said three other people were injured when the 15-foot (4.5-meter) wall of rock fell behind a home in Kailua, about 12 miles (19 kilometers) northeast of Honolulu.

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“He was a gentle giant who loved his family. He was a caring and trustworthy person,” Joshua Kava, Veikoso’s cousin, told diario Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

The 6-foot-10, 300-pound Veikoso played offensive lineman and completed his freshman season at Brigham Young University (BYU), transferring to it after a year at Arizona State.

People embrace on a Kailua street where a student was killed and others critically injured while building a retaining wall.Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP

Firefighters arrived at the scene shortly before noon Friday to find the collapsed wall and people using a small bulldozer to remove rocks that were trapping the men.

The rescue teams suspended the search due to the instability of the wall and manually removed the stones to free two of them in about 15 minutes, but Veikoso was trapped deeper. He was removed at about 12:30 p.m. and pronounced dead at the scene at 1:35 p.m.

The owner of the house told the authorities that she was repairing the wall and that six people were there. One man escaped from the rubble before firefighters arrived but refused to receive medical attention, and two others were unharmed.

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“Rest in peace Sione. May God be with you until we meet again.” BYU tweeted.

After finishing high school, Veikoso spent two years as a missionary with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Manaus, Brazil, before enrolling in college.

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