Trucker’s death in Detroit intensifies demand for safe parking

By Clarissa Hawes, staff writer

Who shot trucker Michael Boeglin and set his Freightliner on fire near a Detroit steel plant in the early morning hours of June 26? Details were certainly hard to come by in the weeks that followed.

Opinions about the need for safe truck parking were not as hard to come by, as advocates, groups and the federal government work toward a common goal.

Boeglin, of Ferdinand, Ind., was just 30 when Detroit firefighters found his body near the ThyssenKrupp Steel Plant in an area that other truckers describe as an unsafe part of the city at night. Boeglin leaves behind a wife, Ashley, and an unborn child – the couple’s first.

Detroit Police Department Spokeswoman Jennifer Moreno said the department was investigating whether Boeglin’s murder was connected to a number of homicide and arson cases in the city.

“These are typical types of occurrences used here to destroy evidence,” Moreno said.

Anyone with information is asked to either call DPD Homicide Division at 313-596-2260 or call the agency’s toll-free number at 800-SPEAK UP.

Plant officials say that Boeglin’s death was a shocking and terrible tragedy and that the company was reaching out to suppliers and employees to heighten awareness of personal safety and security. However, the company has a policy that does not allow parking inside its gated facility.

Hope Rivenburg, the widow of trucker Jason Rivenburg – the namesake of “Jason’s Law” in current highway law – said the news of Boeglin’s death hits eerily close to home for her.

Jason Rivenburg was fatally shot in 2009 while parked in an abandoned gas station in South Carolina. After arriving too early with a load of milk, he was turned away because he was not allowed to park at the Food Lion where he was scheduled to deliver the following morning. Like Boeglin’s wife, Ashley, Hope was also pregnant, delivering twins nine days after Jason’s tragic death.

“My heart goes out to this driver’s family,” Hope Rivenburg told Land Line. “It’s another senseless tragedy that didn’t need to happen. It’s so sad that this man was taken before he even had a chance to be a daddy.”

In 2012, Congress directed the Federal Highway Administration to conduct a survey of truckers and stakeholders about truck parking as part of the Jason’s Law provision of MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century. That survey is ongoing.

Hope Rivenburg has conducted her own survey as well, helping to identify some problem areas.

She hopes that no other truck driver’s family has to go through what she went through after losing her husband and father of three.

“I just don’t understand why this keeps happening,” Hope said. “I know what this driver’s family is going through, to have someone taken from them because they don’t have a safe place to park.” LL

Editor’s note: A fund has been set up to support Ashley Boeglin. To contribute to the fund you can visit any German American Bank. For branch locations, call 812-482-1314.