Scores hold vigil for California couple swept away at Rainbow Falls

(Image: Joseph Harmes)
(Image: Joseph Harmes)

HILO, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Scores gathered in San Diego's Balboa Park on Monday to remember the California couple that was swept away in Hilo's Wailuku River last Saturday.

George and Gladys Novinger, a prominent couple who owned a bed and breakfast together, were visiting the islands with their son and his girlfriend, both of whom watched in horror as the couple was swept up in a raging current and pulled downstream.

"They were loving, giving, fun, beautiful, wonderful people," said their son, Joseph Harmes. "They were the best of the best. I dedicate my life to their legacy."

The body of Glady Novinger was found in the pool below Rainbow Falls, unconscious and with no pulse. She was pronounced dead at Hilo Medical Center.

Her husband has not yet officially been found, but officials believe a body discovered along the coast is his.

Before retiring, George Novinger was a longtime diplomat with the US Department of State.

Harmes said the couple wanted to go to an area behind the waterfall because they kissed there after they got married.

"But it didn't look safe so I said, 'No I'm not going. Mama, don't do it,'" said Harmes.

Harmes says he and his girlfriend hung back as his parents swam towards the waterfall. He says that's when the couple got into trouble.

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