On Saturday night, South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, a Republican, was driving home from a South Dakota Republican Party fundraiser dinner when, as he initially told authorities, his car hit something while on a rural stretch of U.S. Highway 14. He says he called 911 right away—around 10:30 PM—and told authorities it was some large animal, possibly a deer. Apparently, it was actually a person.
According to his media statement from late on Monday, the state attorney general initially stopped his car and used the flashlight on his cell phone to investigate the area but found nothing except pieces of his car. A sheriff’s deputy, Mike Volek, arrived on the scene to fill out collision paperwork, and according to Ravnsborg’s statement: “At no time did either of us suspect that I had been involved in an accident with a person.” He discovered the body the next day when he returned to the scene. Authorities identified the man was Joseph Boever, a 55-year-old man who had seemingly crashed his truck earlier and had been walking back toward it when he was hit. Now, Boever’s family wants answers.
Ravnsborg said it wasn’t until he was driving back to return sheriff’s car, which he’d borrowed overnight because his car was unable to be driven after the accident, that he saw Boever’s body in a patch of grass.
“As I walked along the shoulder of the road I discovered the body of Mr. Boever in the grass just off the roadway,” Ravnsborg said, adding it was apparent that he was deceased.
Tim Bormann, Ravnsborg’s spokesperson and chief of staff, clarified on Monday that the state attorney general had not been injured in the crash. Bormann also said that Ravnsborg does not typically drink alcohol at this or other political events, claiming he “continued that trend at the event Saturday evening.” Ravnsborg provided a blood draw to law enforcement.
"I didn't see him with anything but a Coke,” said state senator Brock Greenfield, who attended the same dinner event, as reported by CBS News.
As reported by The Argus Leader, Ravnsborg has gotten six speeding tickets in six years. In addition to the speeding tickets, he’s also gotten a seatbelt violation, and been cited for driving a car without a proper exhaust and muffler system.
When speaking to local outlet KELO-TV, Nick Nemec, a cousin of the victim and former South Dakota legislator, said his worst fear “is that they're trying to get ducks in a row to absolve the attorney general of any wrongdoing.” Nemec and his brother, Victor, were asked to identify their cousin’s body 22 hours after the accident, on which Nick Nemec noted, “I don’t know if cousin Joe was laying on the highway for 22 hours or if they had bagged him up before that.”
“A human doesn’t look like a deer,” Victor said, as reported by ABC News, adding: “The whole thing stinks to me.”
As of now, the South Dakota Highway Patrol is overseeing the ongoing investigation, and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation is assisting.