BYU football player from Kailua dies in collapse of retaining wall

Dec. 31—A 22-year-old Kailua man home for the holidays from Brigham Young University, where he played football, was killed and several others injured Friday when the retaining wall they were building collapsed at an Enchanted Lake home.

A 22-year-old Kailua man home for the holidays from Brigham Young University, where he played football, was killed and several others injured Friday when the retaining wall they were building collapsed at an Enchanted Lake home.

Family members identified the man who died as Sione Veikoso, a 2018 graduate of Kailua High School and an offensive lineman for BYU, according to the college's.

The Honolulu Fire Department reported receiving a 911 call at 11 :52 a.m. seeking help with a rescue at the 1444 Akiikii Place residence. Ten HFD units staffed with a total of 36 personnel were dispatched, with the first firefighters arriving at the property within seven minutes.

Rescuers made their way to the construction site at the back of the home where the property slopes down toward a canal. There they found that a retaining wall about 15 feet high had partially collapsed and were told several people were trapped under the debris, said an HFD news release.

People at the scene were already were using a mini-excavator in an attempt to remove the large rocks but were directed by HFD personnel to stop their efforts due to concerns about the instability of the remaining wall, according to acting Assistant Chief Kevin Mokulehua. Rescuers then began to manually remove rocks to gain access to the three men who were trapped.

Mokulehua said a fourth person was able to escape from the rubble on his own before firefighters arrived.

At 12 :13 p.m. one of the men was pulled from the debris and transferred to a Honolulu Emergency Medical Services ambulance. A second man was extricated shortly after and was also transferred to EMS' care.

HFD said Veikoso was found deeper amid the debris and was pronounced dead at 1 :35 p.m.

A truck from a construction company called The Rock Man was parked in front of the home at the time of the accident. A representative from the company declined to comment. The Rock Man has a current contractor's license that lists a Kahili Street address in Kailua, according to the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.

Six people were at the work site at the time of the rock wall's collapse, officials said. Honolulu EMS personnel transported two men in serious but stable condition to a hospital. A third person who was also in serious but stable condition declined to be taken to the hospital, said acting EMS field operations supervisor Felimon Juliano.

Juliano said two other men sustained minor injuries and didn't require medical treatment.

Following the accident, friends and family were seen gathering at the Kailua home to console one another as HFD, EMS and Honolulu Police Department personnel were investigating.

Family members described Veikoso a "great kid " who displayed "selflessness " and had worked to help financially support his single mother, who died seven years ago. They said he was scheduled to fly back to BYU next week.

"He was a gentle giant who loved his family. He was reliable and caring, " said Josh Kava, Veikoso's cousin, in a written statement to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

In his senior year at Kailua High School, Veikoso made the Star-Advertiser's All-State football second team as an offensive lineman. He served a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brazil before signing with Arizona State prior to the 2021 season, according to the BYU website. The 6-foot-7, 305-pound Veikoso had also been recruited by Oregon State and Washington State.

Veikoso played one game for the Sun Devils in his 2021 redshirt season before transferring to play for the Cougars as a freshman for the 2022 season.

Kava said Veikoso is survived by two sisters, Mele and Sanimata, and a brother who is also named Sione.