Fate of South Dakota AG who allegedly fatally struck man walking on street could rest on debris testing

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The fate of South Dakota’s attorney general who allegedly fatally struck a man with his car while driving – and said he believed he had hit something else, such as a deer – could lie in debris from the scene, which could determine where in the road the top lawyer’s vehicle was at the time of the crash, officials said.

It’s been more than three months since 55-year-old Joseph Boever, a Hyde County, S.D., resident, was killed while walking along U.S. Highway 14 near Highmore at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 12. The Department of Public Safety has said it has handed over all of its findings to prosecutors, led by Hyde County deputy state’s attorney Emily Sovell.

Crystal Johnson, a Minnehaha County state’s attorney who is assisting Sovell, told The Associated Press the team was waiting for the results of additional testing on an “(unusual) item of debris that was in the middle of the accident scene.” Johnson said she did not have a time frame for when they could receive the results but that the debris could shed light on where Ravnsborg’s vehicle was in the street when it struck Boever.

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Jason Ravnsborg, South Dakota attorney general, speaks during a news conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Jason Ravnsborg, South Dakota attorney general, speaks during a news conference outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Secretary of Public Safety Craig Price, who led the crash investigation, has said Ravnsborg was distracted before he drove onto the shoulder of a darkened stretch of highway but has not provided additional details. Boever was walking on the side of the road and displaying some type of light when Ravnsborg’s 2011 Ford Taurus hit him, according to Price.

Ravnsborg released a statement shortly after the crash saying his vehicle “struck something that I believed to be a large animal (likely a deer).”

Ravnsborg said he called 911 and used the flashlight on his cellphone to survey a ditch near the area “but couldn’t see anything.”

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“I looked around the vehicle in the dark and saw nothing to indicate what I had hit,” he said in the statement. “All I could see were pieces of my vehicle laying on and around the roadway.”

When Sheriff Mike Volek arrived, he, too, “surveyed the damage” to the crime scene and to Ravnsborg’s vehicle, the state AG said.

“At no time did either of us suspect that I had been involved in an accident with a person,” his statement continued. Ravnsborg, whose car was too damaged to drive, borrowed Volek’s personal vehicle to get home, he said.

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Ravnsborg described how he and his chief of staff were driving to return Volek’s vehicle the morning after the scene when they stopped at the accident scene.

“As I walked along the shoulder of the road I discovered the body of Mr. Boever in the grass just off the roadway,” he wrote. “[I]t was apparent that Mr. Boever was deceased.”

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The attorney general has said he’s confident that he did not commit a crime in the crash on a rural highway as he was returning home from a Republican fundraiser.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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