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Ute football player hospitalized after scooter crash

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Posted at 10:35 PM, Feb 25, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-26 00:35:08-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- He was a star football player in high school and was just beginning his shot at college football with the University of Utah.

But on Sunday night, 21-year-old Moana Ofahengaue ended up in the hospital in critical condition after a crash on his motor scooter.

It happened around 9:30 p.m. near his dorm. Ofahengaue was headed west on Hampstead Road near Mario Capecchi Drive when he suddenly lost control. His mom says he was carrying food and became distracted. 

"It was hamburgers and French fries and not one but lots of them and if I know my son, he was paying more attention to the food he was about to drop," said Carey Ofahengaue.

A witness says the scooter tipped over and Ofanhengaue hit his head on the pavement.

"He did and he was not wearing a helmet," added his mother.

Football is in the family's blood. 

Moana's father played for BYU in the late 1990s and was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the early 2000s. Moana has followed in similar footsteps. Before joining the Utes, Moana was a star defensive end at West Lake High School in Saratoga Springs.

"Moana is a great, fine young man, everyone loved him, happy with his long hair hanging out and kids loved being around Moana," said athletic director Mike O'Connor.

That only adds to the emotion as a promising athlete remained hospitalized with a fractured skull Tuesday night.

Ofahengaue has only been able to give his family limited responses.

"We honestly don't know the outcome until he's actually awake," his mother said.

But she says swelling on the brain has decreased since Sunday's crash and there's hope for recovery.

As for her son playing football again, Carey Ofahengaue, said that'll be up to neurologists and her son.

"My son is very strong and very determined and if there's a chance he can play, he'll be back out there. If not, we're gonna go in a different direction," she said.

As of Tuesday night, Moana Ofahengaue remained under heavy sedation.  His family hopes he'll gradually awaken by Thursday.