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IN: Conklin man dies after friend runs him over during hunting trip

March 8, 2010

Conklin man dies after friend runs him over during hunting trip

CONKLIN -- What started out as a hunting trip between two longtime friends ended in tragedy Sunday when a 42-year-old Conklin man died after being run over by a pickup truck.

Jonathan Link, 3483 Squires Road, died around 9:50 a.m. at an Indiana hospital after he was accidentally struck by the truck driven by his friend Robert Ruch, 40, of Ravenna, deputies said. The friends were hunting for coyotes on private land near Fair Oaks, Ind., about 30 miles south of Gary, according to the Newton County Sheriff's office.

The two were preparing to set up camp on the property, said investigator Lt. Mark Farmer, a conservation officer for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

"As they were moving to another location they spotted a coyote, stopped the vehicle, and (Ruch) was looking through a pair of binoculars," Farmer said. "Unbeknownst to him, the victim had exited the vehicle."

Ruch started driving again and heard the truck strike his friend's body, Farmer said. Ruch drove Link to a nearby convience store and called 911 around 8:27 a.m. An ambulance took Link to Jasper County Hospital.

Link's friends and family described him as a loving husband and avid outdoorsman who was a "friend to all."

A second cousin, Shawn Link, recalled fond childhood memories of riding dirt bikes and fishing with Link. The two grew up about a half-mile from each other in Conklin, Shawn said.

"I was just blown away," he said of the shock over Link's death.

Link is survived by his wife, Christina, his parents, John and June, and his sister, Jill Bonthuis Link-Meyers.

A funeral is set for 11 a.m. Thursday in Conklin at Trinity Lutheran Church, 1351 Harding St. Visitation at the church is 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. Thursday.

The Newton County Sheriff's office is investigating and said it's not yet clear if any charges will be filed in the death. Separately, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources says Ruch could face a misdemeanor charge of hunting without an Indiana license. Ruch couldn't be reached for comment.

The accident should remind hunters to use caution, Farmer said. "Any time you're hunting with individuals in a party, you need to know where everyone is.".

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