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Three dead in early morning Big Island crash

Hawaii island police said speed may have been a factor in a crash that killed three people and critically injured a fourth person this morning in Kona.

Police said the driver of a 1998 Toyota 4Runner SUV had passed several vehicles while heading northbound on Queen Kaahumanu Highway and was trying to return to his lane when he lost control and veered back into the oncoming lane of traffic.

The driver of the SUV then broadsided a 2008 Nissan Titan pickup with at least two people inside.

The driver of the 4Runner, a passenger from the 4Runner, and the driver of the pickup, a 37-year-old Kamuela man, were all taken to Kona Community Hospital where they were pronounced dead at about 12:20 p.m. Their names were being withheld pending positive identification and notification of next of kin.

A 32-year-old woman who was riding in the pickup was taken to Kona Community Hospital in critical condition.

Police said the crash occurred at about 6:26 a.m. near the 92 mile-marker.

Police have opened a negligent homicide investigation and ask anyone who may have witnessed the crash to call officer Kimo Keliipaakaua at 326-4646 extension 229.

Anonymous tips can be made to CrimeStoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo.

There have been 15 traffic fatalities on the Big Island so far this year compared to 10 at this time last year.

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