Jake Lavoie had just started his senior year at the University of Minnesota Duluth when he disappeared into the night early Sunday in Canal Park.
To drop out of contact with family and friends for any period of time is extremely out of character for the hardworking, 21-year-old business major, a family spokesman said Thursday night as officials continued their search.
"He takes good care of himself," Tim Johnson, a cousin of Lavoie's mother, told the News Tribune. "He's not somebody to go out and get wasted on a Saturday night and do things that are reckless or careless. And that's why the family is so alarmed and concerned about his well-being."
The Duluth Police Department reiterated its call for the public's help in providing any information or uncovering any evidence that could help find Lavoie.
The Twin Cities native was last seen at 12:08 a.m. Sunday, leaving Grandma's Sports Garden and walking "in a northerly direction towards downtown," police said Thursday.
Johnson said Lavoie had taken an Uber to a bar with a friend, but apparently left at some point. It's not known where he was heading.
Johnson said the family is concerned that people may not take a case involving a college student as seriously as other missing person reports.
"The public perception of this story is a lot different when you're dealing with a 21-year-old man, because it's easy to just draw the conclusion — not knowing anything about him — that he's just some kid out there sowing his wild oats and he got a wild hair to disappear," Johnson said. "But everybody I've talked to who is related to Jake or knows Jake well says that's out of character for him."
Lavoie is a native of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., who recently began his fourth year at UMD. Johnson said he's dedicated to his education, even canceling a planned Labor Day weekend trip back to the Twin Cities because he wanted to work on some school projects.
His parents and some other family members are in Duluth working to assist police, Johnson said.
The police department has organized searches in the area with assistance from the St. Louis County Rescue Squad and Duluth Fire Department, but officials said they are not currently seeking volunteers for any further ground searches.
However, authorities have asked residents and business owners in Canal Park, downtown and Hillside areas to search their properties, including abandoned buildings, vehicles, stairwells, outbuildings, dumpsters, boats or any other location a person could hide. Police also are seeking property owners to review security footage from midnight to 6 a.m. Sunday for signs for Lavoie.
Johnson figures there has to be relevant information that has yet to be reported to police. There is probably no place in the city where there would be more witnesses and security cameras than Canal Park on a Saturday night, he noted, asking people to come forward with any information.
"A lot of people from the Twin Cities tend to visit the Duluth area, especially over Labor Day weekend," Johnson said. "We just want to spread the word as far and wide as we possibly can, because it's quite possible that somebody visiting the area may have seen something that would be a worthwhile clue to this story."
Lavoie is described as a white male, 5 feet 10 inches tall, weighing approximately 150 pounds, with strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a black Nike baseball hat, red or salmon long-sleeve shirt and jeans.
Anyone with information that could assist police is asked to call 218-730-5560 or 911.