The crash occurred on U.S. 550 just north of Cuba shortly before 7 p.m. Monday. The teens had been driving back to Texas from Salt Lake City, Utah at the time of the crash, officials told the Star-Telegram.
According to New Mexico State Police and news reports, the three were passengers in a 2002 Toyota Sequoia traveling south on U.S 550. The vehicle drifted off the roadway and the driver overcorrected and the vehicle rolled several times.
Manukainiu and Andrew Utahafe were ejected from the vehicle, according to the Morning News.
Vaenuku, an incoming member of the Utah football team, was transported from the scene of the accident but was pronounced dead in the ambulance.
The Morning News said the driver Siaosi Uhatafe, 18, and his father Salesi Utahafe Sr. were transported to San Juan Regional Hospital after sustaining minor injuries.
Alcohol was not involved and it appears the driver was the only one wearing a seat belt, according to State Police said.
In a tweet just hours before the crash, Polo Manukainu wrote, “22 hour drive back to Texas on no sleep. Oh my,” according to newspaper reports.
Manukainiu and Vaenuku were teammates at Trinity High School in Euless, Texas, a town of about 50,000. They were part of a large community from the South Pacific island of Tonga.