Yale graphic designer’s disappearance leaves colleagues with heavy hearts

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NEW HAVEN — As his colorful and cheerful designs light up the Yale University campus, highlighting COVID-19 safety and how Yale is moving toward a more sustainable environment, the mystery of Anton Sovetov’s disappearance hangs heavy on his colleagues.

Sovetov, 44, a Russian national who had worked as a graphic designer at Yale since 2017, disappeared on February 5. Yale and New Haven police have been investigating the case “day and night” ever since, but have offered no clues as to what may have happened to Sovetov.

John Gambell, whose official title is university printer, heads the graphic design office and is Sovetov’s supervisor. He called Sovetov a “wonderful colleague, really collegial and collaborative”.

Since they worked in “a nice, quiet, headlong office,” Gambell said he didn’t know Sovetov well. However, “we were working on him becoming a permanent citizen or permanent resident of the United States and along with that I spent a lot of time talking with him about his early education, his career before coming to come to Yale and our office.

Sovetov’s only known relative is his mother, who lives in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Casey R. Pickett, director of Yale’s Planetary Solutions Project, said Sovetov created many of the presentations that Pickett gave at Yale, to business leaders and around the world, such as at the COP23 conference in Bonn, Germany, in 2017.

“It was really great working with him,” Pickett said. “He had an opinion in the best way. His approach really clarified where things were. Sovetov focused on communicating ideas simply and directly, Pickett said.

“I can’t tell you how hopeful we are just in a really weird break,” Pickett said. He said he feels “really confused and distraught. I find myself distracted from work and life thinking about him quite often. It’s really hard to think of a story that makes sense of that.

Pickett said that since Sovetov loves hiking and the Adirondack Mountains, and given that “the last two years have been really intense,” Sovetov may have decided to head into the wilderness. But he said that was unlikely. He said he “wished I could send him a message of empathy and support in some way.”

Gambell said: “I think I’m just starting to come out of the initial shock, and I have to deal with the idea that I may never see Anton again. And I may know nothing more about what happened than now. It’s very very disturbing. »

He said the lack of information after Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins announced Sovetov’s disappearance on Feb. 17 worries him. “I honestly think that if there was a lot of useful information out there for the public, they would have released it. I feel like an extraordinary effort has been and is still being made to find Anton.

Higgins released a statement to the New Haven Register on Wednesday, saying, “This is an ongoing priority investigation and our hearts[s] hanging out with Anton’s family and friends. The YPD Investigative Services Unit has been working around the clock on the investigation since the incident was reported. Hundreds of hours were spent on the investigation. The New Haven Police Department’s Investigative Services Unit assists, along with other state authorities.

In his Message of February 17, Higgins said, “Mr. Sovetov is a beloved Yale staff member. The news of his disappearance is difficult not only for him [communications office] colleagues, but also on other members of the Yale community. Yale encourages those most severely affected to use the support services available to the University community. »

Gambell said Sovetov worked in graphic design for a decade before receiving formal training. “From when he was around 20 until he was 30, he was going from design studio to design studio, architecture studios, all kinds of different settings, doing design work chart,” Gambell said.

Sovetov then studied at Royal Academy of Fine Arts in The Hague, Netherlands, for four years before coming to Yale for two years, graduating in 2016.

“He really liked hiking,” Gambell said. “We talked quite often about trips he was planning or trips he had taken”, and as a six-person office “we got to know each other quite well”. Sovetov also liked to collect mushrooms. “He’s just fascinated by the environment, nature.” Gambell said that, according to friends, Sovetov had not planned any trips until at least the summer.

Sovetov was originally reported as last seen on February 4. Corn a video posted by On Scene Media New Haven County, a local Facebook page, showed a man wearing a COVID mask checking groceries at the Elm City Market on February 5. Higgins confirmed to the record that Yale police believe the video shows Sovetov.

According to the Yale Police Missing Persons Bulletin, Sovetov is 6-foot-2, weighs about 200 pounds, and has blue eyes, short brown hair, a mustache, and a beard.

Anyone with information that can help the investigation can call Yale Police at 203-432-4400 or New Haven Police at 203-946-6316, or text anonymously through the LiveSafe app.

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