KAILUA-KONA — Two Japanese visitors died in a two-vehicle crash Friday afternoon on Palani Road near the intersection with Laimana Street.
The women have been identified as Takako Oikawa, 70, of Kanagawa, Japan, and Michiko Ono, 69, of Tokyo, according to the Hawaii Police Department.
Responding to a 4:33 p.m. call, police determined a white 2016 Nissan sedan operated by a 69-year-old Japanese man had been traveling west on Palani Road when the vehicle crossed over the centerline 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 both transported to Kona Community Hospital where they later died.
The operator of the Nissan and his male passenger were also transported to the Kona Community Hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash. As of Sunday, they remained hospitalized in serious condition.
The operator of the GMC pickup truck was also transported to the Kona Community Hospital for treatment for his injuries. He remains confined to the hospital in guarded condition.
Police believe inattention was a factor in the crash, but it is not immediately known if alcohol was a factor.
Autopsies have been ordered to determine the exact causes of death.
The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated negligent homicide investigations and is asking for anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact Officer Justin Hooser at 326-4646, ext. 229. Those who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.
These are the 13th and 14th traffic fatalities on Hawaii Island public roads this year compared to 18 at this time last year, according to police.