Two men died in a traffic crash early Thursday morning in North Kona near the 81-mile marker of Queen Kaahumanu Highway.

Just after 1 a.m., police say a 2004 Honda van had been traveling south on the highway, crossed the center line and hit a 1999 Chevrolet van, which had been traveling north.

The driver of the Chevrolet, Thomas Callero, 48, of Waikoloa, was taken to North Hawaii Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 3:05 a.m.

The driver of the Honda, Stewart Kroll, 70, of Kailua-Kona, was also taken to North Hawaii Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:10 a.m.

It was not immediately known if speed or alcohol were factors in the crash.

The Traffic Enforcement Unit has initiated a negligent homicide investigation and is asking for anyone who witnessed the crash to call Officer Kimo Keliipaakaua at 326-4646, extension 229. Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call Crime Stoppers at 961-8300.

These are the third and fourth traffic fatalities this year compared with five at this time last year.