61-Year-Old San Diego-Area Man Identified as Body Discovered in Hawaii - NBC Southern California

61-Year-Old San Diego-Area Man Identified as Body Discovered in Hawaii

The cause of death is not known yet, according to Hawaiʻi police

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    NEWSLETTERS

    George and Gladys Novinger died after they were swept away in a swimming accident in November on the Big Island in Hawaii. Monday night, dozens attended a vigil for the couple at the House of Pacific Relations in Balboa Park. NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda has the story. (Published Monday, Dec. 4, 2017)

    A body found along the coastline of Hilo Bay in Hawaii has been identified as a San Diego area man who died while crossing above a waterfall with his wife.

    George Novinger, 61, was on vacation in Hawaii with his wife Gladys. On Nov. 25, the couple was crossing the Wailuku River above Rainbow Falls when they fell into the water.

    She was found in the pool below and airlifted to Hilo Medical Center where she later died.

    Her husband remained missing until Dec. 1, when authorities found his body at the bottom of a 35-foot cliff along the shoreline in Wainaku, according to the Hawaiʻi Police Department.

    The body was not identified as Novinger until Wednesday. The cause of death is not known yet, according to Hawaiʻi police.

    Gladys' son, Joseph Harmes released a statement thanking the Hawaiian community for their search and rescue efforts. He also thanked the local community for their support.

    "Thank you for showing the respect to how much my parents dedicated their time, their energy, and their resources to the community here in San Diego," Harmes said over the phone. "Thank you for acknowledging this and for acknowledging the type of people that they were."

    Monday night, more than 100 people gathered in Balboa Park at the House of Pacific Relations to honor the couple during a candlelight vigil. 

    Gladys Novinger helped to found the House of Peru, which is in the process of having its own cottage built at the International Cottages in Balboa Park. 

    Board members of the House of Peru said they will name the cottage in the couple's honor.

    George Novinger recently retired as a diplomat for the U.S. State Department's Foreign Service. He also served as the Chairman of the International Cottage Committee and spoke last year to NBC 7 about the group's efforts to expand the International Cottages to include more nine additional nations including Mexico, India, Palestine, and Peru.