Hunting Accident File > Safe Hunting?: > 2006

IA - Boar hunting trip goes horribly wrong for Kalona man


Boar hunting trip goes horribly wrong for Kalona man

By: Mary Marek

When Kermit Gingerich, 34, and his friend Aaron Swartzentruber, both of Kalona, headed to Macon, Mississippi Saturday, May 6, it was in anticipation of hunting wild boar on a farm owned by Morris Miller. But after Gingerich failed to return from hunting Wednesday, anticipation turned to dread, which turned to sorrow late Friday, when Gingerich's body was found in a creek.

According to reports, the two men split up Wednesday morning to head to separate tree stands. When a rain shower turned into a thunder storm, Swartzentruber decided to head to the house. He checked Gingerich's tree stand, but it was empty. He didn't become worried, though, until later that evening when Gingerich still had not returned.

An official search and rescue operation was initiated Thursday morning, but, according to Gingerich's father-in-law Virgil Slabaugh, it was the local people, not the officials, who actually carried out the search.

"I can't say enough good things about those people," Slabaugh said in an interview Monday. He explained that it was the local church and community people who responded to their call for help.

By the time Slabaugh, along with Gingerich's wife, Kim and his three brothers and two brothers-in-law, arrived in Mississippi, dozens of local people had joined in the search of the wooded and marshy terrain where the Kalona men had been hunting. Recent rains had caused flooding in the area, and Thursday's search had been accomplished mostly by people on horseback who had covered the high spots.

The flood water had receded enough by Friday that a more thorough search of the area was possible. It was late afternoon when searchers using dogs found several items - his revolver, binoculars, camera and knife - Gingerich had wrapped in his raincoat and left on the bank of a creek.

About an hour later, according to Slabaugh, they found his body in the water.

Slabaugh explained that the creek may have looked deceptively shallow to Gingerich, who could not swim, but in reality, it had steep banks.

Gingerich and his wife, Kim, have four children, two boys and two girls, the oldest of which is ten. He has three brothers and two sisters. His father, Rudy Gingerich, died in September 2003. His mother Mary Anna lives in Kalona.

He farmed and had worked as a mechanic for Earl's Radiator & Repair in Kalona for about ten years, according to Kev Swantz, Earl's bookkeeper.

"Earl said he would have hired a hundred of Kerm," Swantz said, "he was that good. We don't know what we're going to do."

Gingerich's father-in-law describes him as "a good, hard-working guy. He had a quiet friendliness.

"Everyone's hurting extremely bad. It's awfully tough."

See page 2 for a complete obituary..

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