Slain NY trucker’s wife urges action by lawmakers

| 3/19/2009

In the past week, nearly 4,000 people have signed a petition titled “Jason’s Law” in an effort to encourage lawmakers to support legislation for secure parking options for the nation’s truck drivers.

Family and friends of Jason Rivenburg started circulating the petition after the 35-year-old trucker from Fultonham, NY, was fatally shot on March 5 while parked at an unlit gas station off Interstate 26, south of Columbia. Three suspects have been charged in the crime. 

This past Saturday, Rivenburg’s widow, Hope, met with U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, on the issue. On Wednesday, March 18, Hope gave birth to twins, a daughter and a son. The Rivenburgs also have a 2-year-old son.

Rivenburg, who was laid off from his full-time construction job, was driving part-time for VanderVeen Trucking Inc, of Delanson, NY, and was waiting to deliver a load of milk when he was killed for approximately $7.

Donna VanderVeen told Land Line on March 19 she and her husband, Frank, were planning to visit Hope and her babies, who arrived a few weeks early.

“We hear she and the babies are doing well and are going down later today to see for ourselves,” she said.

Donna said many people have stepped up to help Rivenburg’s family during this senseless tragedy, which has hit home for her and for countless families who have loved ones out on the road trucking. If Jason hadn’t taken the load, it could easily have been her husband who had parked at the abandoned gas station

“We are amazed by the number of good people who are out there because now Hope has three babies to take care of now,” Donna said.

As some states look to eliminate truck parking and close rest areas in an effort to save money, she said this isn’t a wise move at all.

“There is a shortage of parking already and states are looking to cut more. This isn’t a good idea,” she said.

Nearly 45 percent of those who have responded so far to a Land Line poll on the issue said they have been a victim, or have had a close call to being a victim, of a violent crime while parked in their trucks.

Click here to sign the electronic petition the Rivenburg family is circulating.

– By Clarissa Kell-Holland, staff writer