Authorities suspend search for Hugo man

Redivoje Ray Novakovic
Redivoje Ray Novakovic

HUGO — Authorities suspended their search Monday for a missing 75-year-old Hugo man, citing an undefined search area and the extensive ground the man could have covered outside the initial search area.

Washington County Sheriff’s Office Commander Brian Mueller said Tuesday authorities called off the search for Radivoje Ray Novakovic about 3 p.m. Monday.

“Mr. Novakovic is an avid walker, many days covering over four miles. The area in which Mr. Novakovic could be located is significant,” Mueller said.

Mueller also asked all Hugo property owners to help in the search for Novakovic by checking their properties for any sign of the missing man.

“We are asking the public to assist with searches of their property to include outbuildings, stored vehicles and watercraft, pools etc. If you are aware of someone living in and around the area who is unable to conduct this search on their own, please help or contact the Sheriff’s Office for assistance,” he said.

Authorities began searching for Novakovic about 10 p.m. Sunday night after Novakovic left his home in the 13000 block of Europa Trail near the Hugo south water tower about 7 p.m. Sunday to go on a walk and failed to return. Novakovic’s family told authorities that Novakovic took many routes on his walks.

Novakovic is five feet, six inches tall, 160 pounds with grey-white hair and was last seen wearing a maroon shirt, khaki pants and a brown hat. Novakovic is diabetic, mildly bi-polar and has been known to get disoriented.

Washington County Sheriff Bill Hutton and Hugo City Administrator Bryan Bear during a news conference Monday morning at Hugo City Hall urged Hugo residents to thoroughly check their properties for Novakovic. Hutton added that Novakovic’s hyperglycemia might have enabled him to walk further from home than his normal routes take him.

Hutton stressed the need for a thorough search, as Novakovic’s medical conditions can lead to confusion. For example, opening a shed door is not enough, according to Hutton; residents should walk into the shed. He also said to check inside vehicles.

Several agencies participated in the search including Hugo’s police, fire and public works departments, fire departments from Forest Lake and White Bear Lake, and the police and fire departments from Centennial. A Minnesota State Patrol helicopter was deployed, and the WCSO used mounted deputies, a canine unit, its reserve unit and its Water Recovery Team, which searched the north end of Bald Eagle Lake, located near Novakovic’s Europa Trail home.

Authorities searched for Novakovic until 4 a.m. Monday, then resumed the search at 8 a.m. Monday before suspending the effort Monday afternoon.

Mueller said there is no indication of foul play and the WCSO is not requesting volunteers to assist searching in areas other than their own property.

Hutton has worked on several missing persons cases involving vulnerable adults and said it is unwise to predict any outcomes.

“It could be just about anything,” he said. “You just never know.”

Mueller urged any citizens with information regarding Novakovic to contact the WCSO at 651-439-9381.