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Family mourns death of tour bus driver

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Posted at 9:44 PM, Oct 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-30 00:09:18-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Fox 13 is learning more about the tour bus driver who was killed in a crash Monday.

He was the father of one Utah's most talented football players. Matt Asiata, a former Ute and NFL players along with his sister talked about their family's loss. Some of the words used to describe Pita Asiata were a hardworking, humble man and a father who was always there for his kids.

His son Matt credits his success to his father.

"I heard my Mom in the background screaming I knew something was going on," Matt Asiata said.

Matt Asiata was with his wife and kids in Minnesota, on their way to eat dinner when his brother called. "I didn't want to believe it, I didn't,” he said. “I was outside just trying to call my dad to see if he picks up, nothing."

There was no answer on the other line. His father, Pita Asiata, was no longer with them.

Pita Asiata was behind the wheel of a tour bus, driving a group back to Salt Lake City from Wendover when it crashed into a construction truck, which had slowed down significantly to turn into a median. The bus couldn't stop in time. Five passengers were injured, but there was no saving the 53 year-old man.

"Our hearts hurt," said his oldest daughter Sega Asiata.

Sega Asiata said she wants people to remember her father as the kind, loving family man that he was. "He was the nicest man, so full of love, humility anyone who knew my dad knows he would make you his best friend within ten seconds. He loved his job; he loved everybody," she said.

Sega Asiata said it was her dad's support, strength and hard work ethic that propelled his kids to the top.

"My dad, because most of you know my family because of sports the best thing that my dad always did was show up to every game since we were 5, 7 whatever it was, he was there at every single game and my mom said he wanted to be there in case something happened so if anything that my dad stood out was the love and support he gave us kids," she said.

Matt Asiata is a former University of Utah football player and now a running back for the Minnesota Vikings.

"Everything that happened to me is all because of him, his blood runs through my veins, like my sister said he was always there from the beginning," Matt Asiata said.

Matt Asiata said his father will be there when he takes the field again.

"No doubt about it, he's gonna be my angel,” he said. “I'll be out there with him."

Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham issued a statement regarding Pita Asiata’s death.

"We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Pita Asiata, the father of Matt and Shawn Asiata. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Matt, Shawn and their entire family as they go through this extremely difficult time," Whittingham stated.

The Minnesota Vikings issued a statement as well.

"We are aware of the tragic incident involving Matt's father, Pita Asiata. This is heartbreaking news for Matt and his family. We are here to support the Asiata family in any way possible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Asiata family," the Vikings team stated.

Pita Asiata leaves behind his wife, five kids, four grandchildren and one on the way. He also leaves behind a big extended family. They will be holding a family service on Sunday. His funeral will take place Monday in Bountiful.