EULESS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The stands at Euless Junior High School were packed with Lolo Uhatafe’s family and friends on Wednesday afternoon.
The 9th grader was killed in a car crash earlier this week.
“We are going to hurt for a long time not having him around,” said Lamar Kirk, the athletic director at Euless Junior High. Kirk said the team will wear Lolo’s number ‘3’ this season on their football helmets. Lolo was the quarterback for the team.
Lolo’s mother, Tulima Uhatafe, sat on the front row and listened to the testimonies. She often wiped tears and smiled as she heard to the kind words.
Through tears and heartache dozens of friends and teachers walked up to the microphone and remembered the 13-year-old. “It hurts to see him go,” said Lolo’s best friend Noah.
A teacher told the crowd, “Just to say his name Lolo made you smile.”
While Lolo Uhatafe may have only stood 5’2″ his teachers said he made a big difference and was his big brother Polo Manukainiu’s shadow. The younger son wanted to follow in Manukainiu’s footsteps and eventually play for the NFL.
In remembrance of his friend one student had instructions for the crowd. “This is a reminder that life is short! Love each other.”
A total of five people were traveling in an SUV, when the vehicle drifted off the roadway and rolled several times in New Mexico on Monday evening. In addition to Lolo, his brother and Texas A&M defensive lineman Polo Manukainiu and family friend and University of Utah defensive tackle Gaius Vaenuku were also killed. Lolo’s brother, 18-year-old Salesi Uhatafe Jr., and father, 50-year-old Salesi Uhatafe, were the only ones to survive the crash.
Gaius Vaenuku’s family says they too are distraught and heartbroken.
“We were all behind him and excited to be out his first year at Utah, but God had a bigger plan for him and we believe him and Polo will play a bigger football game in heaven,” says his aunt Evelini Halatoa “He was just a humble sweet kid and loved everybody.”
Gaius’ family says they can’t wait to hug him and help him heal.
“I’m going to tell him how much I love him I’m going to count him as my grandson too,” said Maile Makahununiu – Gaius Vaenuku’s grandmother “I’m going to spoil him. Look after him.”
Gaius grandmother says she is sure he’s with his grandfather right now. His grandfather passed away in January.
A prayer service will be held at 6:30 Wednesday night at Campus West First Baptist Church; another one will take place at 8 p.m., at Martin Methodist in Euless.
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