South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg told authorities he thought he hit a deer when he struck and killed a 55-year-old pedestrian.
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg in a statement released late Monday night said he thought he hit a deer when he struck and killed a man on Saturday night and that he discovered the body when he returned to the scene the next day.
Ravnsborg struck and killed Joe Boever, 55, on the side of Highway 14 west of Highmore, South Dakota, around 10:30 p.m. local time Saturday.
Ravnsborg said he released the two-page statement to dispel the “many rumors and stories being told which do not represent a full and factual account of what happened.”
Ravnsborg said he drove home from the Spink County Lincoln Day Dinner in Redfield around 9:15 p.m. Saturday. He did not drink any alcohol before, during or after the event, and that on his way back to Pierre he hit what he believed to be a deer.
“I didn’t see what I hit and stopped my vehicle immediately to investigate,” the release states. Ravnsborg was driving alone and was uninjured.
After calling 911, the Hyde County Sheriff arrived on scene to assess the damage to Ravnsborg’s vehicle and look for the suspected deer in the area. Neither the sheriff nor Ravnsborg saw Boever’s body in the ditch, even though Ravnsborg said he used his cell phone flashlight to search the area, Ravnsborg said.
“At no time did either of us suspect that I had been involved in an accident with a person,” he said.
Ravnsborg borrowed the sheriff’s personal vehicle to drive back to Pierre, he said. He then returned to the scene of the crash the following morning on his way to return the sheriff’s vehicle. He and his chief of staff stopped to look for the injured animal again, finding Boever’s body in the grass.
“My chief of staff and I checked and it was apparent that Mr. Boever was deceased,” Ravnsborg said. “I immediately drove to Sheriff Volek’s home to report the discovery and he accompanied me back to the scene. Once there, the sheriff instructed me that he would handle the investigation, and asked me to return to Pierre.”
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The South Dakota Highway Patrol was notified about the fatality Sunday morning, and authorities immediately began investigating the crash, said Tony Mangan, spokesman for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety. Gov. Kristi Noem and DPS secretary Craig Price held a news conference Sunday evening, announcing that Ravnsborg was involved.
None of the information provided by Ravnsborg has been confirmed by authorities. The Highway Patrol has not released if speed or alcohol were a factor in the crash, when Ravnsborg reported the crash or if charges are pending against him.
Ravnsborg said that he is “cooperating fully with the investigation” and has agreed to a search of both of his cell phones, provided a blood draw and provided witnesses to law enforcement who can confirm he was not drinking at the event before the crash.
Ravnsborg was elected to his post in 2018 with 55 percent of the vote, defeating Democratic opponent Randy Seiler.
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