SOUTH Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg reported hitting a deer with his car over the weekend – but he actually killed a 55-year-old man whose body wasn't found until the following day.
The 44-year-old prosecutor hit and killed Highmore resident Joseph Boever with his 2011 Ford Taurus on US Highway 14 at 10:30pm Saturday, the South Dakota Highway Patrol said on Thursday in a news release.
The prosecutor had been returning to Pierre after attending a GOP fundraiser hosted by the Spink County Republicans at Rooster's Bar & Grill in Redfield, his office said.
He's known to be a frequent attendee of the events known as Lincoln Day Dinners, which are hosted by county Republican groups around the state.
Tim Bormann, chief of staff at the state attorney general's office, told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader via email on Monday that Ravnsborg had been traveling alone at the time of the collision and was uninjured.
Ravnsborg's office has said he hadn't been drinking before the accident, and Bormann said he's known to have an occasional drink but that he makes it a point to remain sober at Lincoln Day events.
The AG “placed the call to 911 right after the accident, my understanding is that he called from the location of his vehicle,” he wrote.
But the Department of Public Safety said Ravnsborg only told the Hyde County Sheriff's Office that he had hit a deer with his vehicle – he didn't mention whether he reported the crash in his 911 call.
Cops found Boever's body Sunday morning, according to highway patrol officials, who said the agency wasn't told about his death until that day.
When Boever's family on Sunday couldn't find him at his home and saw an accident being investigated near where he had left his truck, they grew fearful that he was involved.
Boever's cousin Victor Nemec said he contacted the sheriff around 10 a.m. and was told to wait – it took nearly 22 hours for his family to identify his body, after 8pm that day.
"My worst fear is that they’re trying to get ducks in a row to absolve the attorney general of any wrongdoing," cousin Nick Nemec told Keloland.
State authorities haven't given a clear timeline as to when the crash was reported, and investigators haven't revealed whether alcohol was a factor.
South Dakota Gov Kristi Noem announced at a Sunday night press conference that Ravsborg was involved in a fatal crash and that Secretary of Public Safety Craig Price will oversee the Highway Patrol's investigation.
Ravnsborg said in a statement on Sunday night that he was "shocked and filled with sorrow following the events of (Saturday) night."
"As Governor Noem stated, I am fully cooperating with the investigation and I fully intend to continue do so moving forward. At this time I offer my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family," he said.
Ravnsborg was elected as attorney general in 2018.
But he has a history of traffic violations – a background check by the Argus Leader revealed the Republican AG received six traffic tickets for speeding in South Dakota between 2014 and 2018.
He pleaded guilty to all six infractions and paid fines ranging from $19 to $79.
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