The Michigan DNR celebrated the lives of 16 Conservation Officers, who died in the line of duty.
A new memorial was presented at the Ralph A. MacMullen Conference Center in Roscommon.
Michigan DNR Conservation Officers, Michigan State Police, and families of fallen officers attended a memorial service on Tuesday.
“It started in 2012 with the dedication of the site,” said Conservation Officer Tim Rosochacki. “It was in 2017 that there was a very big push to see its completion.”
Officer Rosochacki was involved in helping create the memorial.
“It’s very humbling to be involved in this, to pay homage to the officers that gave their lives to do what we all do every single day,” he said. “A lot of people got together and we had a vision for what we wanted this to look like, and it’s very similar to what you see today.”
He said it was a rewarding experience, especially to share the moment with the 16 families of the fallen officers.
“They lived and suffered through the loss of a loved one. I don’t want to ever imagine what it would be like for me or any of my coworkers’ families to have to feel like that,” Officer Rosochacki said. “To have them here opening that box of emotions again is very important and very rewarding and very humbling.”
One of those families in attendance was Kristin Boogard, the daughter of Vernon Scott Averill, who died in 1986 from complications after being beaten in an attack on the job.
“He had a passion for the woods and loved, loved his job,” Boogard said. “To be here to celebrating and honoring them together has been very special.”
Boogard said she was 16 when her father died.
“They’re always in your heart,” she said. “You carry them with you wherever you go.”
Boogard said the new memorial can now be a place of healing for the families.
“The circumstances around his death were so tragic,” she said. “It’s a way to come back and put the heinousness of the crime aside and come back and just remember the love and the memories of him.”