By Margie Wuebker
A Fort Recovery High School sophomore died Wednesday night when the tractor he was driving overturned in a farm field near Salamonia, Ind.
Matthew "Bud" Beyke, 15, 460 Peters Road, was pronounced dead at the scene around 9:30 p.m. by Jay County Coroner Mark Barnett.
Beyke and his parents, Mark and Ruth (Siegrist) Beyke, had been baling straw in a field located off the 7300 block of East 600 South. No one witnessed the utility tractor flipping, which pinned the youth, and authorities continue to investigate what transpired.
Ruth Beyke, who had been driving baling equipment on the far end of the field, noticed smoke coming from an area near the road. She went to investigate thinking the other vehicle had overheated. Two passers-by, reportedly area farmers, spotted the overturned tractor and stopped to investigate. Emergency personnel were summoned by cell phone.
"My dad was returning from taking a load of bales home and he, too, saw smoke," Barb Barga said. "He hoped and prayed it was somebody burning garbage." Rescuers used jacks and other equipment to free the teenager. Rushing to the scene were Jay County Rescue, the Jay County Sheriff's Office, Salamonia Fire Department and Salamonia first responders.
"Matt was straightening bales to make it easier for our dad to pick up the next load," Barga said. "He loved farming ... he couldn't get enough."
Family members now cling to memories from earlier Wednesday night. Ruth Beyke recalls an animated wave and a big grin flashed across the field; his father remembers the hearty shoulder-shaking laugh and a tongue stuck out in ornery fashion as they passed.
"Matt was happy, kind, very loving and a little ornery," Barga said. "He picked a little but with four sisters he got much more than he ever gave out."
Rita McEldowney describes her nephew as someone with the ability to talk to anyone regardless of age. He willingly pitched in and never waited for someone to request help.
"Matt loved his 8-month-old nephew (Gavin Barga) and used to baby-sit all the time," his sister said. "He didn't mind holding or feeding a little one; now changing diapers was a different matter entirely. He knew when enough was enough."
He reportedly was looking forward to the arrival of a niece in four weeks.
The teenager was to begin football practice soon. He was a drummer in the high school band and an FFA member. He also participated in soccer and baseball.
"Matt had not decided what course his life would take after high school," Barga said. "He wanted something related to the outdoors, and farming would have been a part of his future in some way or another."
Arrangements are pending at Brockman & Boeckman Funeral Home, Fort Recovery.