UPDATE: Early Morning Crash Leaves 3 Dead; 1 Man Identified by Police
UPDATE: May 19, 9:17 a.m.:
Police have said that an autopsy conducted on Wednesday, May 18, 2017, determined that the male operator of a 2008 Nissan Titan who died on Wednesday, May 17, after being involved in a two-vehicle crash on Queen Kaʻahumau Highway has been identified as 37-year-old Hailame Lavaka of Kamuela.
The autopsy report also confirmed that Lavaka died from his injuries sustained in the accident.
The positive identification of the operator and passenger of the 1998 Toyota 4Runner involved in this traffic collision are still pending the results of DNA identification.
However, police have not yet officially released the names of those who died in the 4Runner.
Three people were killed in a traffic crash near the Kona International Airport this morning, Wednesday, May 17, according to Big Island police.
The crash happened north of the 92-mile marker on the Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway around 6:26 a.m.
Police officials say a 1998 Toyota 4Runner being operated by an unidentified male had been passing several vehicles as he traveled north on the Queen Kaʻahumanu Highway.
As he completed his pass, the operator lost control of his vehicle which caused it to veer back into the oncoming (southbound) lane where it was then involved in a broadside collision with a 2008 Nissan Titan operated by a 37-year-old Kamuela man.
A 32-year-old female passenger of the Nissan Titan was taken to the Kona Community Hospital for treatment of her injuries, she is currently in critical condition.
The driver and passenger of the Toyota 4Runner, and the driver of the Nissan Titan were all taken to the Kona Community Hospital where they were pronounced dead at 12:20 p.m., 12:21 p.m., and 12:22 p.m. respectively.
Police believe speed was a factor in the crash, but it is not known if alcohol was a factor.
Police say autopsies have been ordered to determine the exact cause of death and to identify the parties.
The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a negligent homicide investigation and is asking anyone who may have witnessed the accident to contact Officer Kimo Keli‘ipaakaua at (808) 326-4646, ext. 229.
Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300 in Hilo.
Hawaiʻi News Now obtained cell phone video taken from the scene of the accident. The video shows the two vehicles engulfed in flames.
The road was reopened shortly before noon.
These are the 13th, 14th and 15th traffic fatalities this year compared to 10 at this time last year.