South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has released a statement recounting the Saturday night accident in rural central South Dakota in which he hit and killed a pedestrian.
The body of 55-year-old Joseph Boever was found Sunday morning lying in a ditch.
In the statement released late Monday afternoon, Ravnsborg says he was returning to Pierre from a Republican fundraiser in Redfield when he thought he’d hit a deer on Hwy 14 a mile west of Highmore about 10:30 pm.
He stopped to look around and called 911 with Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek responding.
Together the two men searched the road and ditch, Ravnsborg using the flashlight feature on his cell phone, but neither saw anything and the attorney general says neither of them suspected he’d hit a person.
Ravnsborg’s car was not driveable and he accepted an offer from the sheriff to drive Volek’s personal car to Pierre and arrived home about midnight.
The next morning, Ravnsborg and his chief of staff were driving Volek’s car back to him when they spotted debris from the accident.
He says they stopped to see if they could find the animal, but that he instead found Boever’s body in the grass just off the roadway.
Ravnsborg then drove to Sheriff Volek’s home and reported what they found. The sheriff returned to the scene with him, then told the attorney general to go home while he conducted the investigation.
Ravnsborg says he has been cooperating fully, being interviewed by investigators, agreeing to a search of both his cell phones, and providing a blood draw for blood-alcohol testing.
A spokesman said after Gov Kristi Noem revealed the accident at a news conference on Sunday that while Ravnsborg is known to “have an occasional drink,” he’s made it a practice not to drink at events such as Saturday’s fundraiser.
Ravnsborg says he gave investigators a list of people at the Redfield event who would confirm that he had not been drinking.
Boever’s cousin, Victor Nemec, was unhappy Monday morning, saying the state still hadn’t reached out to him despite the fact he was the one called in to identify the body.
Nemec told KEVN Black Hills FOX he believes the state is being “tight-lipped” in the investigation.
In both his brief statement on Sunday and his longer one Monday, Ravnsborg said he was “shocked and filled with sorrow” about the accident and offered his deepest sympathy and condolences to the Boever family.