Two Hawaii island men are dead and four other people were injured in a head-on collision on Highway 19 near Onomea on the Hamakua Coast Sunday night, county officials said.
Police identified one of the men as Miles T. Nakanishi, 61, of Hilo, but they did not release the name of the 65-year-old Hakalau man who also died, pending positive identification and notification of the next of kin.
According to police, the 65-year-old man was driving a 1999 Chevrolet pick-up truck north on the Hanawi Bridge just after 7 p.m. when he crossed the centerline and collided with a 2005 Cadillac Escalade multi-purpose vehicle going south and driven by Nakanishi. Both drivers were dead at the scene, police said.
Emergency personnel took the passengers in the Cadillac — two women, ages 60 and 80, a 6-year-old boy, and an 11-year-old girl — to Hilo Medical Center. The children were flown to The Queen’s Medical Center and Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children in Honolulu in critical condition, while the women were in serious condition at Hilo Medical Center.
Police said it is unknown if speed, alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash. They have opened a negligent homicide case and have ordered autopsies for the two men.
Police closed the highway for several hours and re-routed traffic to the Onomea scenic route while they investigated the crash.
Anyone with information about the crash can call Officer Tuckloy Aurello at 961-8119. These are the 34th and 35th traffic fatalities on Hawaii Island this year compared with 16 at this time last year, according to police.