Minnesota mom, fatally struck while biking with kids, 'made everybody happy'
Andrea Boeve had one of those 1,000-watt smiles that could light up a room. Her laugh, friends say, was loud and happy and contagious.
“I wish you could have heard it,” said Leah Sternhagen, who lived on the same dormitory floor as Boeve when the two attended South Dakota State University in Brookings. “She had an amazing laugh. I can’t even begin to imitate it. … Andrea was the one who always had a smile on her face. It was easy to be around her. She always made everybody happy.”
Boeve, 33, of Steen, Minn., was killed June 30 while she was out for a bike ride with her two young daughters, Claire and Mallorie. Boeve, who was wearing a helmet, was pulling her daughters, ages 4 and 1, in a bike trailer on Minnesota 270 near her home when she was struck by a 1-ton 2003 Chevrolet pickup truck.
The truck was driven by Christopher M. Weber, 25, of Madison, S.D., who was on his cellphone navigating his bank’s automated phone system, according to a criminal complaint filed last week in Rock County District Court. He faces a felony charge of criminal vehicular homicide.
Boeve’s funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the American Church in Luverne. The service was delayed so that 4-year-old Claire, who was hospitalized with a punctured lung and broken rib, could attend.
The funeral is expected to draw so many people that it is being held in Luverne rather than Boeve’s home church, the Reformed Church of Steen. The Luverne church also has overflow seating and the capability to live stream the service, said the Rev. Dan Kuik, Boeve’s minister.
In preparation for the service, Kuik said he has been focusing on 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, which speaks of God comforting us so that we can comfort others.
“He walks through it with us,” said the pastor, who believes the community — in Steen and beyond — will also be helped by one another.
“People need to be ‘Jesus with skin on’ — that’s the cliche that we use — but that’s what Andrea did,” he said. “She did that all the time.”
Kirk said Boeve’s relationship with God “permeated every dimension of her life.”
‘They were a team’
Boeve, who grew up in Salem, S.D., was a nurse practitioner at Avera Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. She received her nursing degree in 2003 from South Dakota State and a nurse practitioner’s degree in 2010 from Creighton University.
She married Matt Boeve, a farmer, in 2005 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Salem.
“She loved being married,” Kuik said. “They were a team. They worked together. She was an awesome mother. She loved being a mother, and she did a great job. Her kids adored her.”
On the morning of June 30, Boeve and her daughters had biked over to visit Matt’s mother, Ann Boeve. They then headed for the house they were building, slightly east of their old house.
“They had just poured the footings to the new house, and they wanted to see the progress,” said Jay Bakken, of rural Beaver Creek, Minn., a longtime family friend.
Before arriving at the site, Boeve and the girls were struck by the truck.
Bakken said Andrea Boeve was the kind of person who made everyone’s day better.
“She was spunky, she was smart, she was fun, she was funny, adventurous,” he said.
Bakken said 4-year-old Claire looks a lot like Andrea and 1-year-old Mallorie has a smile on her face all the time, like her mother.
A fund established to support Matt, Claire and Mallorie Boeve — gofundme.com/ay2tts — had raised $18,000 as of Thursday afternoon. Part of the money will be used to buy Claire and Mallorie a new wooden Rainbow playset, said Sternhagen, who helped set up the fund.
Family and friends have been experiencing a range of emotions since the accident, according to Kuik.
“We’re angry that the impatience of technology was a big dimension in causing the accident,” he said. “We’re just angry about that — that it had to happen to someone so young and vibrant and, from our perspective, so much needed in her family.”
Sadness, he said, comes in waves.
But friends and family, said the pastor, are glad that Boeve was a believer and trust firmly that she is enjoying eternal life.
Family members called and asked Kuik to come to the scene of the accident. Even there, they were thinking of Weber, the driver, he said.
“They said, ‘This is really going to be tough on him, and we don’t want his life to be ruined. We need to be praying for him, too,’ ” Kuik said.
“At the same time, there are consequences to a person’s action. He needs to learn from those. We need to learn from those.”
The tragedy is leading people, including Kuik, to put their phones away before they get behind the wheel, he said.
“I don’t think I’ve met anybody (since the accident) that we haven’t had a conversation about taking stock and reflecting on how we use our technology when we drive,” he said. “Hopefully, everyone will be making some permanent changes in our activity with our cell phones in our cars. I know I have.”
Boeve’s death has also spurred bike advocates to push for tougher distracted-driving laws.
In this case, the prosecutor has evidence to support charging the defendant with gross negligence, said Nick Mason, program manager for the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. That is not always the case.
He said the alliance will be telling legislators that stronger policies and greater protection for bicyclists are needed.
On Wednesday, Commissioner Edward Ehlinger of the Minnesota Department of Health, Commissioner Mona Dohman of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and Commissioner Charlie Zelle of the Minnesota Department of Transportation sent out a letter regarding Boeve’s death.
“Driver inattention is a leading contributing factor in fatal crashes,” the commissioners wrote in a commentary to local news media. “Cell phones and other electronic devices are commonplace in our lives today. But using them while we are driving is unsafe, irresponsible and can be deadly.”
Kuik hopes people will remember Boeve’s contagious smile and her two daughters and husband and put their cellphones away.
“It’s better to have known her and have had her live for 33 years and have all that positive impact on people’s lives than not to — even though it’s a huge loss,” he said.
“The memories come and they give us hope and encouragement and gladness of heart. We’re glad the two kids are here, and that we have them around to carry on her spirit and her memory.”
The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.