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South Dakota Atty. General was ‘distracted’ prior to fatal crash, officials say

Published: Nov. 2, 2020 at 9:29 AM CST
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This article has been updated to reflect a statement from Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s spokesperson.

PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Investigators say South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was “distracted” prior to a fatal crash involving a pedestrian near Highmore, though the nature of that distraction is still unclear.

Department of Public Safety Craig Price and Governor Kristi Noem gave an update on the investigation into the Sept. 12 crash Monday morning. Gov. Noem said much of the investigation is now complete.

The crash report said the victim, 55-year-old Joseph Boever of Highmore, was walking on the north shoulder of Highway 14 when he was struck. Boever was carrying a light at the time.

According to the report, Ravnsborg was driving a 2011 Ford Taurus west when he became distracted, entered the north shoulder, and struck Boever. The specific distraction “is still under investigation,” the report states.

A diagram of the Sept. 12 fatal crash involving Atty Gen. Ravnsborg, released in a Dept. of...
A diagram of the Sept. 12 fatal crash involving Atty Gen. Ravnsborg, released in a Dept. of Public Safety crash report on Monday.(South Dakota Dept. of Public Safety)

Secretary Price said the state is still awaiting final autopsy results, which includes certain toxicology and forensics reports. Officials previously said a blood draw taken from Ravnsborg the day after the crash found no alcohol in his system.

The crash report did not list Boever as responsible for any “contributing circumstances” in the crash.

Officials say the investigation is now in the hands of the Hyde County state’s attorney’s office, which will make the decision on whether to file any charges in the crash.

Gov. Noem said she will not express personal opinion or take action at this point, saying he is awaiting the decision of the Hyde Count state’s attorney’s office.

A spokesperson for Ravnsborg, Mike Deaver, provided the following statement, “We appreciate the efforts by South Dakota Department of Public Safety and look forward to the fully compiled and final report from the various entities looking into the incident. There are still specifics to be answered and today’s information update represents one more piece of the overall investigation. We look forward to the final report. Our hearts and prayers continue to be with the family.”

Details released prior to Monday’s briefing

Ravnsborg released a statement two days following the crash, saying he was driving from a GOP event in Redfield to Pierre at the time. The statement said he believed he had struck a deer. He called 911, and Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek responded to the scene.

The crash left Ravnsborg’s car inoperable. Volek lent Ravnsborg his personal car to drive home. Ravnsborg said he did not realize he had struck a person until he returned to the scene of the crash the next morning.

Officials released the 911 call about a month after the crash. During that call, Ravnsborg told the dispatcher he hit something that was “in the middle of the road,” though he was not certain what it was.

Ravnsborg released a statement Monday night saying he looks forward to the final report.

“We appreciate the efforts by the South Dakota Department of Public Safety and look forward to the fully compiled and final report from the various entities looking into the incident. There are still specifics to be answered and today’s information update represents one more piece of the overall investigation. We look forward to the final report. Our hearts and prayers continue to be with the family,”

The state initially released few details about the incident. Ravnsborg released a statement two days after the crash, saying he did not consume any alcohol at the GOP dinner, and that he believed he had struck a deer that night.

About a month later, Price released Ravnsborg’s blood alcohol content report, as well as the 911 call Ravnsborg made after the crash. Price said Ravnsborg had no alcohol in his system when he gave a blood sample on Sept. 13. In the 911 call, Ravnsborg told authorities he hit something that was “in the middle of the road,” though he was not certain what it was.

Watch Monday’s full briefing here

Read the full crash report here

South Dakota's attorney general Jason Ravnsborg was involved in a fatal crash Saturday night.
South Dakota's attorney general Jason Ravnsborg was involved in a fatal crash Saturday night.(South Dakota Attorney General Office)

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