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Centenary Highway crash killed star rugby league player

Mother’s Day tragedy as footy player and his mate die in horror crash – with three other victims fighting for life in hospital

  • Talented rugby league player among two people killed in three-vehicle crash
  • Two cars collided before third crashed on Queensland Highway on Sunday
  • Family and friends have paid emotional tributes to late 22-year-old Vaea Taavale

A young and talented rugby league player is among two people who died after a three-car crash on Mother’s Day.

Vaea Taavale, 22, was killed when his Mitsubishi collided with a Mazda on Centenary Highway between Springfield and White Rock, south of Brisbane, at 6.20am on Sunday.

Anthony Cooper, 30, also died before a third vehicle ran into the two crashed cars and left another man and two women with critical injuries.

Vaea Taavale, 22, was killed when two vehicles collided on Centenary Highway between Springfield and White Rock, south of Brisbane, at 6.20am on Sunday

A third vehicle then collided with the crashed vehicles killing 30-year-old Anthony Cooper

A third vehicle then collided with the crashed vehicles killing 30-year-old Anthony Cooper

Another man and two women were left with critical injuries following the three-vehicle smash

Another man and two women were left with critical injuries following the three-vehicle smash

Family and friends have paid tribute to Mr Taavale who had played for the Wynnum Manly Seagulls Juniors Brisbane Rugby League A Grade team.

‘It is with great sadness that our family announce the passing of our beloved brother Vaea,’ his brother Ake Peseta wrote on Facebook.

‘Unfortunately our brother gained his wings early hours of this morning.

‘At this time, we ask that you please respect our privacy as we try to navigate this incredibly painful journey.’

A heartbroken friend recalled playing a league match with Mr Taavale just a few weeks before the crash.

‘Just seeing the news and found out you passed uce was shocking, life is way too short, and our last message was just last month,’ he wrote.

‘Was mad playing against you at Mustangs too and you only just started playing for Wynnum, we used to mock each other at work and muck around but man gone too soon lil uso, RIP Vaea Taavale.’

The Wynnum Manly Seagulls team made an emotional post farewelling their star teammate.

‘It is with great sadness we announce that on the early hours of Sunday morning Wynnum player Vaea Taavale tragically passed away,’ the post said.

‘An up and coming young player with enormous potential who after a few early season set backs recently returned and was back to make an impression in the BRL competition.

Family and friends have paid tribute to Mr Taavale who had played for the Wynnum Manly Seagulls Juniors Brisbane Rugby League A Grade team

Family and friends have paid tribute to Mr Taavale who had played for the Wynnum Manly Seagulls Juniors Brisbane Rugby League A Grade team

Queensland Ambulance Service senior operations supervisor Kevin Morgan described the crash site as 'confronting'

Queensland Ambulance Service senior operations supervisor Kevin Morgan described the crash site as ‘confronting’

The Wynnum Manly Seagulls team made an emotional post farewelling their star teammate

The Wynnum Manly Seagulls team made an emotional post farewelling their star teammate

‘Players and coaching staff a deeply shocked and saddened by his sudden passing.

‘The Wynnum football club and community pass on our deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. Rest Easy Big V.’

Mr Cooper was remembered as a ‘good man’ by his friend Ty Graham.

‘He always helped others when he could … he made sure his friends and family always had what they needed … he had a big impact on everyone,’ he told Courier Mail.

‘He was a person who had recently gotten out of a bad mental health space after being in there for years … he started a business and started to turn his life around,’ Mr Graham said.

‘He helped me through my own struggle with mental health.’

Queensland Ambulance Service senior operations supervisor Kevin Morgan described the crash site as ‘confronting’.

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