Search continues for missing Hugo man

The search continues for Radivoje “Ray” Novakovic, a 76-year-old Hugo man with medical problems who was last seen Sunday night as he set out for his usual 3- to 4-mile walk.

Novakovic was seen near the Fable Hills bridge near his home in the southern part of the city on the northern end of Bald Eagle Lake, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. When he didn’t return, family members began a search, then called the Sheriff’s Office about three hours later.

An intensive search that included local and state police and fire agencies, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Hugo Public Works Department found no sign of him.

Novakovic suffers from diabetes, which can cause him to become disoriented, and he also has a mild bipolar disorder.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s continued assistance in making a thorough check of their properties for any signs of Novakovic. These checks should include any place that Novakovic might have sought shelter, such as outbuildings, stored vehicles or watercraft, and covered pools.

Anyone with any information regarding Novakovic’s whereabouts is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at 651-439-9381.

Jim Anderson

Child predator is sought in Sandstone area

Minnesota corrections officials are asking for the public’s help in finding a sex predator who absconded Sunday from his supervised release in the Sandstone, Minn., area.

The Department of Corrections issued a warrant for the arrest of Rommel Heinrich Fritz, a Level 3 predatory offender who was on intensive supervised release for first-degree criminal sexual conduct against girls ages 7 through 14.

In 1999, he was convicted of four counts of kidnapping, first-degree criminal sexual conduct that involved penetration and third-degree criminal sexual conduct, with at least four victims. Pine County prosecutors had filed 37 counts against him, but many counts were dropped in plea arrangements, court records show.

While the younger victims knew him, the 14-year-old did not. She was bound, gagged and physically forced to have sex, according to the Corrections Department.

Fritz, 52, was released from the state prison in Rush City on June 11, 2012, and was living in the Sandstone area. He’s known for riding his blue Schwinn mountain bicycle and may be towing a bicycle trailer filled with his belongings.

Anyone with information on Fritz’s whereabouts is asked to call 911 or the Corrections Department’s 24-hour tip line, 651-603-0026. People should not approach him, authorities said.

Joy Powell

Scooter driver dies in collision in Red Wing

A man riding a motorized scooter in downtown Red Wing collided with a car and died shortly after sunrise Wednesday, a death that adds to the state’s mounting motorcycle fatality toll, authorities said.

The crash occurred just before 6 a.m. at Main and Hill Streets, just east of Bay Point Park, according to the State Patrol.

The 49-year-old man from Red Wing died while driving down Main Street, the patrol said. He was not wearing a helmet. His name was being withheld pending notification of relatives.

The car’s driver, Nicholas Sparby, 29, of Red Wing, was not hurt.

The scooter was heading east on Main and collided with the car, which was turning left from northbound Hill onto Main, the patrol said. The car had a stop sign to observe, while the scooter did not.

Because of the engine’s size, the scooter was registered as a motorcycle and not as a moped, according to the state Department of Public Safety. That makes this rider the 13th to die in Minnesota this month and the 34th for the year.

Paul Walsh

Teen driver is killed in crash near Buffalo

A 16-year-old driver pulled in front of a dump truck at an intersection just southwest of Buffalo, setting off a three-vehicle wreck that killed the girl, authorities said Wednesday.

The collisions occurred shortly after 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at County Road 35 West and Dempsey Avenue NW. in Chatham Township, according to the Wright County Sheriff’s Office.

Emma Rodelius, of Maple Lake, was dead at the scene, the Sheriff’s Office said. Rodelius, a junior at Buffalo High School, was a budding professional photographer, shooting portraits, wedding photos and images for graduation invitations.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Rodelius was driving a car north on Dempsey and approached a stop sign at the intersection with County Road 35. She pulled into the path of the dump truck as it headed east and had the right of way. The truck hit the car and sent it crashing into a car heading west on County Road 35.

The truck’s driver, Scott Quady, 56, of Sandstone, Minn., was not hurt. The other car’s driver, Kenneth Hartneck, 49, of Howard Lake, Minn., went to a Buffalo hospital with noncritical injuries.

Paul Walsh