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Man's body found in pond

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:49 PM

WAKEMAN - Natasha Scott was in the water at Hostile Valley Park when her uncle, Ronald T. Link, of Wakeman, started bobbing up and down about 150 to 175 feet away.

Scott heard two relatives say, "Look at Ron."

"He didn't reply back," she said. "He was going above and below (the) water."

When the children saw Link go under the water but didn't see him again, Scott swam to where her uncle had been. "I swam over and started looking for him. I didn't see anything," Scott said.

One relative reported seeing Link, 35, jump into the water and swim toward a diving board, but didn't see him turn around to head back toward the shore, Huron County Sheriff's Major Greg Englund said.

Divers found Link's body about 1:45 p.m. Monday using sonar equipment from the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department, Sheriff Richard Sutherland said.

"He was maybe 40 feet offshore," he said. "It's a tragedy something like this happened."

Link's body will be taken to Lucas County for an autopsy and toxicology test.

"All indications from the family were he had been drinking," Sutherland said, saying the toxicology results should determine if Link had been intoxicated.

Link's wife reported her husband may have drowned in the Ohio 60 North pond as of 8:45 p.m. Sunday. Link went swimming after playing volleyball during a family picnic that started between 1:30 and 2 p.m.

"He was hot and sweaty and wanted to get cooled off," Link's wife, Patience, said. "He swam from one dock to another and he never made it back."

The distance between the two docks is between 100 and 150 feet. The deepest part of the pond, which is 5 1/2 acres wide, is about 30 feet.

"He's actually always been a good swimmer, but he (had) a heart condition," Patience said. "He just had (angioplasty) surgery July 11. He shouldn't have been in the water in the first place."

Link's heart condition started about 10 years ago. The July 11 angioplasty was his seventh surgery.

"He only (had) about 10 percent of his heart left," Patience said.

"The muscles in his heart (were) very, very weak," added Patience's grandmother, Carolyn Gray.

Hostile Valley Park has been owned by Roland Tkach's family since 1959. Construction on the man-made pond began in 1973 and the campground began operating three years later.

"We've never had a death," Tkach said.

"It's open 11 (a.m.) to dark. We do patrol the area. We don't have a lifeguard on duty. It's well publicized we don't have a lifeguard on duty."

Tkach, who doesn't know Link or his family, said Deputy Andrew Montana was at Hostile Valley about 7 p.m. Sunday to investigate an accident in which Patience Link apparently backed into a Pontiac TransAm. The owner of the TransAm was not a member of Link's family.

Link, at some point, left without saying "a word to anybody about her husband drowning," said Tkach, who spoke to Montana after he completed his investigation.

Tkach estimated Link was gone for 45 minutes to an hour before returning to say her husband may have drowned.

"Somebody came to us and said, 'Our husband is missing.' It's a very, very odd situation," he said.

Sutherland said about 45 firefighters and divers were involved in the initial search Sunday night and the one that resumed about 10:30 a.m. Monday. Two dive teams searched for Ronald Link until about 3 a.m. Monday.

Firefighters and dive teams from Wakeman, Wellington, Elyria and Brecksville provided mutual aid.

"They had a lot of good people doing their thing," Sutherland said. "Brecksville came to assist because they have sonar equipment, but it was disabled (from) when they found the two bodies in Lorain."

Wakeman Police Chief Tim Hunker said the last near drowning in the area was about four years ago involving a 2-year-old girl at her home near Mechanic Street.

"The child was brought back. They were able to revive the child," he said.

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