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Body of California man swept away into the Wailuku River in November is found

MEDIA RELEASE

Hawaiʻi Island police have identified the body discovered along the coastline of Hilo Bay, in the Wainaku area, as the 61 year-old California man who was swept down the Wailuku River in November. He has been identified by dental records as George Novinger of Spring Valley, California.

On November 25, 2017, Police and fire personnel responded to the Rainbow Falls State Park in Hilo for a report of a couple who fell into the water while crossing the river above the falls. The woman, Gladys Novinger, was extricated by helicopter from a pool below the falls and taken to the Hilo Medical Center where she later died at 4:25 p.m.

In the following days, rescue personnel continued their search for the woman’s missing husband, George Novinger.

Then on December 1, 2017, police and fire personnel responded to the 26-200 block of the Hawaiʻi Belt Road (Highway 19) in Wainaku where George Novinger’s body was found at the bottom of a 35-foot cliff along the shoreline. He was taken to Hilo Medical Center where the official pronouncement of death was made at 3:35 p.m.

Detectives from the Area I Criminal Investigation Section are continuing the investigation. Autopsies on both victims were performed, but the cause of death has been deferred pending toxicology results, though preliminary results indicate that both died as a result of fresh water drowning.

Anyone who may have information about this incident 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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