Sioux Falls Argus Leader
Published 1:46 PM EDT Sep 15, 2020
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said in a statement released late Monday that he thought he hit a deer when he fatally struck a man 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 said 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 says. Ravnsborg was driving alone and was uninjured.
Previously: South Dakota AG struck, killed a pedestrian with car; initially said he thought he hit a deer, officials say
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 of 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 said whether speed or alcohol were a factor in the crash; when Ravnsborg reported the crash; or whether charges were pending against him.
Ravnsborg said he was “cooperating fully with the investigation” and that he has agreed to a search of both of his cellphones, provided a blood sample and offered witnesses who can confirm to law enforcement that he was not drinking at the event preceding the crash.
Ravnsborg was elected in 2018 with 55 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat Randy Seiler.
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