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Police cite driver inattention in Kona crash that claimed lives of 2 visitors

Two women died in a two-vehicle crash Friday afternoon on Palani Road near the intersection of Laimana Street in Kona, according to Hawaii island police.

They have been identified as Takako Oikawa, 70, of Kanagawa, Japan, and Michiko Ono, 69, of Tokyo.

Police responded to a 4:33 p.m. call on Friday and determined that a 2016 Nissan sedan driven by a 69-year-old man from Japan traveling west on Palani Road crossed over the centerline and collided head-on with a 2018 GMC pickup truck operated by a 32-year-old Kailua-Kona man.

During the collision, Oikawa and Ono sustained critical injuries and were both transported to the Kona Community Hospital, where Ono was pronounced dead at 5:55 p.m. and Oikawa was pronounced dead at 7:55 p.m. Friday.

The driver and one male passenger of the Nissan sedan were also transported to Kona Community Hospital, where they remain in serious condition. The driver of the GMC pickup truck was transported to Kona Community Hospital, where he remains in guarded condition.

Police believe that inattention was a factor in the crash, but do not yet know 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 witnesses to the accident to contact Officer Justin Hooser at 326-4646 ext. 229. Anonymous tips may also be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo.

These were the 13th and 14th traffic fatalities in Hawaii this year compared to 18 at this time last year.

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