Aerial search resumes for San Diego man swept away near Rainbow Falls

Local News

An aerial search resumed Tuesday morning for a 61-year-old man who was last seen in the water above Rainbow Falls.

Crews were forced to suspend their search just after 10 a.m. Monday due to flash flooding and heavy rain conditions.

Officials say it is still too dangerous to conduct ground and dive searches.

Authorities were notified on Saturday, Nov. 25, at around 12:45 p.m., after witnesses spotted the man and a woman struggling in a pond about 100 yards above the falls before vanishing underwater.

The Hawaii Police Department says the couple reportedly fell while crossing Wailuku River above the falls.

The woman was later found unconscious in the water below the falls. She was airlifted to waiting paramedics who took her to Hilo Medical Center, where she died at 4:25 p.m.

She was identified by Hawaii island police as Gladys Novinger, 62, of Spring Valley, Calif.

While officials have not officially named the man, the House of Peru, a non-profit organization in San Diego founded by Novinger, identified him as her husband, George Novinger.

The organization released the following statement:

“George and Gladys were involved in several organizations in San Diego, primarily focused on international affairs. Gladys was an honorary consul in San Diego for Peru. George had a long distinguished career in foreign service.

“Gladys founded the the House of Peru in 2001, a non-profit organization under the House of Pacific Relations.

“One of the main goals of the organization is to construct a physical cottage in Balboa Park. George served in a volunteer capacity as the project manager, overseeing the construction of the House of Peru, and the eight other cottages being constructed for other organizations.

“Last year, we finally received approval, marking it a major milestone for Gladys and George.

“Individuals interested in making a donation to fund the construction of the House of Peru cottage in memory of George and Gladys can do so at www.HouseofPeru.org.

“The House of Peru will name the cottage in their honor.”

Meanwhile, detectives with the Criminal Investigation Section are continuing the investigation into Novinger’s death.

The case is currently classified as an unattended death. Her exact cause of death has been deferred pending toxicology reports.

Anyone who may have witnessed the incident or have any other information about it is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Dean Uyetake of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2379 or Dean.Uyetake@hawaiicounty.gov.

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