South Dakota investigates attorney general over fatal crash

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg initially reported that he believed he struck a deer Saturday night while driving home from a dinner. Photo courtesy of South Dakota Office of the Attorney General

Sept. 15 (UPI) — South Dakota’s attorney general was involved in a vehicle crash over the weekend that resulted in the death of a pedestrian, officials said.

The South Dakota Department of Public Safety said in a short statement Monday that Jason Ravnsborg, the state’s Republican attorney general, struck and killed a pedestrian on U.S. Highway 14 near Highmore at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

Ravnsborg, 44, told the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office following the accident that he had struck a deer and that he had been uninjured, according to the release, which added that the body of Joseph Boever, 55, was discovered on Sunday.

Gov. Kristi Noem in a three-minute press conference on Sunday said the state’s highway patrol was investigating the crash with oversight from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, which will report directly to her.

In a statement late Monday, Ravnsborg explained that he called the police following the crash, which he believed to have been caused by a deer.

“I looked around the vehicle in the dark and saw nothing to indicate what I had hit,” he said. “All I could see were pieces of my vehicle laying on and around the roadway.”

He said he was driving home from the Spink County Lincoln Day Dinner and had not consumed any alcohol.

Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek responded to the call and neither he nor the attorney general had suspected a pedestrian was involved in the incident, Ravnsborg said, adding that he then drove home in the sheriff’s personal vehicle.

Ravnsborg said that he stopped by the crash site on Sunday en route to return the sheriff’s vehicle when he spotted Boever’s body, after which he drove to Volek’s home to report the discovery.

“I’m deeply saddened by the tragic nature of these events and my heartfelt condolences go out to the Boever family,” he said, adding he released the statement in order to dispel rumors that had been spreading following the incident.

He said he is cooperating with the investigation and has agreed for both of his cell phones to be searched, to have his blood drawn and to give investigators the names of those who attended the party.

“I have full confidence in the thoroughness of the job being done by the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which I believe will answer most if not all questions that the people of South Dakota may have,” he said.


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