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Hunter's Death Ruled Suspicious
By MARY ANN SLATER, Gazette Staff Writer November 14, 2005

Officials are still investigating the details surrounding the death of a 39-year-old man from Loyalhanna Township who was found at 7:20 a.m. Sunday at the base of a tree in the woods along State Route 981, about a mile south of Saltsburg.
Steven Andrew Kachonik, whose body was found not far from his home by members of the Saltsburg Volunteer Fire Department, had last been seen about 3 p.m. Saturday going into the woods, according to state police from Kiski Valley.

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In a news release, the Westmoreland County Coroner's Office called the death "suspicious" but gave no further information. The coroner's office is withholding details about the nature of Kachonik's injuries or the cause and manner of death until further investigation is complete.

The police reported Sunday in a press release that Kachonik had been shot. Kiski Valley dispatcher Marilyn Sinsabaugh said this morning that his wounds were caused by a gunshot.

This morning, Harry Clawson, stepfather of Kachonik's fianc©e, Marcie Niebarger, said Kachonik had been hunting Saturday with a bow and arrow.

Westmoreland County Deputy Coroner F. Christopher O'Leath pronounced Kachonik dead at the scene. An autopsy was completed Sunday evening.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission is joining the state police and the Westmoreland County Coroner's Office in the investigation. This morning, game commission officials did not have any other details on the death.

John Dice, chief of the Saltsburg Volunteer Fire Department, said his members were called to join the search for Kachonik at 6:50 a.m. Sunday. He believes others were out searching Saturday. According to state police, a helicopter search had been attempted Saturday evening. A bloodhound unit from the Greensburg Volunteer Fire Department had also been called out.

The Saltsburg crew found Kachonik after about 30 minutes, Dice said.

"We were just lucky," the fire chief responded when asked how they found the deceased so quickly.

Dice said he did not know much about Kachonik except that he lived near where his body was found.

"He was actually hunting in his backyard," Dice said.

Clawson answered the phone at Kachonik's home this morning. He said he did not know any more details surrounding the death.

He said Niebarger had called police after Kachonik failed to return from bow-and-arrow hunting Saturday evening.

"Marcie knew something was wrong. He was always home by dark."

"He was a good guy," Clawson said. "It is a tragic loss."

The Curran Funeral Home in Saltsburg is handling the arrangements.
 

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Scary. I sometimes look over my shoulder when hunting alone. You never know who is out there.
 

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Let's hope they get to the bottom of this tragic event.
Prayers are with him and his family.
 
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