A college football player died in a tragic construction accident Friday.
Brigham Young University offensive lineman Sione Veikoso was killed in the accident in his hometown of Kailua, Hawaii, on Friday, the team stated on Twitter. Veikoso was working with a construction crew in the area when a retaining wall collapsed. A transfer from Arizona State, the redshirt freshman appeared in one game for the Cougars in 2022.
“We are extremely saddened to learn of the tragic death of one of our brothers, Sione Veikoso,” Brigham Young head coach Kalani Sitake said in a Twitter post Saturday. “His passing is heartbreaking to all of us. We offer our deepest condolences and prayers to his family as we share in their grief. Our love for you is forever, Sione!”
“The BYU Football Family mourns the passing of our dear teammate and fellow Cougar, Sione Veikoso,” BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe added in a separate statement on Twitter. “May his family and friends feel our love and faith at this most sacred and difficult time. Peace be with you now and forever Sione.”
According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, some 36 firefighters from the Honolulu Fire Department responded to the collapse in a residential neighborhood in Kailua. The 15-foot retaining wall partially collapsed, trapping four people under the rubble. When fire crews arrived, residents were attempting to use a mini excavator to remove the large stones in order to free the trapped workers. Firefighters stopped them because the remaining wall was unstable. One person had already gotten out from under the rubble by the time they arrived.
Firefighters removed the rocks manually and rescued two people, but a third was buried deeper. About an hour later, they recovered the third individual, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. The two survivors were taken to a local hospital and treated. A third survivor who was in serious but stable condition refused medical treatment. Two of the workers escaped with only minor injuries that did not require medical attention.
Family members later identified Veikoso as the deceased.
According to a memorial posted on the BYU football website, Veikoso graduated from Kailua High School, where he played football. After graduating from high school, he served a full-time mission for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Manaus, Brazil, for two years, from 2018 to 2020. After returning from his mission, the 6-foot-7, 305-pound offensive lineman enrolled at Arizona State, where he played one game in his redshirt season for the Sun Devils. He transferred to BYU in the summer, and appeared in one game for the Cougars this season. The team also organized a GoFundMe to help defray some of the funeral costs for his family.
Veikoso was on holiday break when the accident occurred. He was scheduled to fly back to BYU next week, the Star-Advertiser reported. He is survived by two sisters, Mele and Sanimata, and a brother who is also named Sione.
“He was a gentle giant who loved his family. He was reliable and caring,” Veikoso’s cousin Joshua Kava wrote in a statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.