KAILUA-KONA — Two Japanese visitors died in a two-vehicle crash Friday afternoon on Palani Road near the intersection with Laimana Street in Kealakehe.
Police identified the women as Takako Oikawa, 70, of Kanagawa, Japan, and Michiko Ono, 69, of Tokyo.
Responding to a 4:33 p.m. call, police determined a white 2016 Nissan sedan operated by a 69-year-old Japanese man was traveling west on Palani Road when the vehicle crossed over the center line and was involved in a head-on collision with a silver 2018 GMC pickup truck operated by a 32-year-old Kailua-Kona man.
Oikawa and Ono suffered critical injuries and were transported to Kona Community Hospital where they later died.
The operator of the Nissan and his male passenger also were transported to the Kona hospital. As of Sunday, they remained hospitalized in serious condition.
The operator of the pickup was transported to the Kona hospital and was confined there under guarded condition as of Sunday.
Police think inattention was a factor in the crash, but it was not immediately known if alcohol was a factor.
Autopsies were ordered to determine the exact causes of death.
The Traffic Enforcement Unit initiated negligent homicide investigations and is asking anyone who might have witnessed the crash to contact Officer Justin Hooser at 326-4646, ext. 229. Those who prefer to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.
These are the 13th and 14th official traffic fatalities on Hawaii Island so far this year compared with 19 at this time last year, according to police.