South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R) has released a statement following his Saturday evening highway car crash, which he initially believed involved him hitting a deer-like figure but actually involved him hitting a person, according to authorities.
In the Monday evening statement, Ravnsborg said he had initially declined to comment on the case but decided to release a statement after “rumors and stories,” which he said don’t represent “a full and factual account of what happened,” began to circulate online.
According to Ravnsborg, he was leaving a fundraiser when his car “struck something that I believed to be a large animal (likely a deer).” He promptly pulled over and called 9-1-1, and inspected the scene while the sheriff arrived.
Once the sheriff arrived, said Ravnsborg, neither of them suspected a person had been hit with the car. Because the attorney general’s car was undrivable, and a tow truck would have taken over an hour to arrive, the two went to the sheriff’s house and Ravnsborg borrowed the sheriff’s personal car to drive home.
The following morning, the state attorney general said, he was on his way to return the car, along with his chief of staff, when the two stopped by the site of the accident to see if they could find the animal he believed he had hit the preceding evening.
Instead, the two found the body of Joseph Boever, 55, a nearby resident of Highmore, South Dakota, in a ditch.
“As I walked along the shoulder of the road, I discovered the body of Mr. Boever, in the grass just off the roadway. My chief of staff and I checked and it was apparent that Mr. Boever was deceased,” said Ravnsborg, who added that he promptly drove to the sheriff’s home to notify him.
Nick and Victor Nemec, two relatives of Boever, told Rapid City Journal that they were angry about how long it took for them to be asked to identify Boever, which they were able to do on Sunday evening.
“I believe the state is going to try to cover this up as much as they can. I don’t trust this state government,” said Victor Nemec. “This state is known for covering up wrongdoing of elected officials all the time.”
Ravnsborg said Monday that he is cooperating with the investigation and that he is “deeply saddened by the tragic nature of these events.” He also extended condolences to Boever’s family.
“I’ve been cooperating fully with the investigation and have agreed to a search of both of my cell phones, provided a blood draw, and have given the investigators the names of anyone at the dinner who can confirm that I was not drinking alcohol at any time during the event,” he said. “I also sat down with the agents investigating this matter and have provided them with a full face to face interview answering any and all questions they may have of me.”