Three men who were riding in the bed of a pickup truck died Saturday night after a motor vehicle collision in Kihei.
The crash happened just after 9:30 p.m. when a blue Dodge pickup truck was making a left turn from Mokulele Highway into the entrance of Maui Raceway Park, police said. The truck was struck by a white Toyota pickup truck traveling north on Mokulele Highway.
The three men were ejected from the bed of the blue pickup and were pronounced dead at the scene.
The men have been identified as 25-year-old Howard Pruse of Waiehu, 51-year-old Eric Oguma of Waiehu and 27-year-old Tyree Kamaunu of Waihee.
The three occupants of the white pickup truck were transported to Maui Memorial Medical Center.
A front-seat passenger in the blue pickup was injured and also was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center. The driver did not require medical treatment.
A black Toyota pickup truck that was stopped near the entrance of Maui Raceway Park was hit by projectiles from the crash, but the driver was not injured.
Police are investigating whether excessive speed, drugs or alcohol were factors in the collision.
“The Maui community is deeply saddened by the loss of lives in this tragic vehicle collision,” said Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui, a former Maui state senator, in a statement Sunday. “My condolences and prayers go to the families of the victims during this difficult time.”
Hawaii law allows passengers to legally ride in the bed of a pickup if there are no available seats in the cab of the truck. Passengers in the bed must be seated on the floor and cannot “control unleashed cargo.”
The pickups has to have a closed tailgate. Children 12 and under are prohibited from riding in pickup beds.
The deaths raised Maui County’s traffic fatality total this year to eight compared to 14 at the same time last year. The death toll doubled in a single day; earlier Saturday, a moped rider died after a collision with a Honda CR-V in Kahului.