South Dakota AG speaks out on fatal crash

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said he actually discovered the body of the pedestrian he fatally struck Saturday night — when he returned to the scene a day later.

Ravnsborg, in a two-page statement issued late Monday, claimed he didn’t realize he hit Joe Boever, 55, on the side of Highway 14, and had assumed it was a deer until he returned back on Sunday morning.

The AG said the crash occurred as he was driving home from the Spink County Lincoln Day Dinner in Redfield around 9:15 p.m. He added he did not have any alcoholic beverages before during or after the event.

“I immediately called 911 to report the incident and [Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek] came to the scene,” Ravnsborg said. “I looked around the vehicle in the dark and saw nothing to indicate what I had hit.

“At no time did either of us suspect that I had been involved in an accident with a person,” the AG went on to say.

Ravnsborg and Volek arranged for the AG to borrow the sheriff’s personal car to drive back home because his own vehicle was too damaged to drive. The AG found the body of Boever the next morning, as he and his chief of staff were passing by the scene to return the sheriff’s vehicle, he said.

“I discovered the body of Mr. Boever in the grass just off the roadway,” Ravnsborg went on. “My chief of staff and I checked and it was apparent that Mr. Boever was deceased.”

Boever was walking on the side of the road at the time of the crash, toward his own broken-down vehicle that was in a ditch nearby, his cousin, Victor Nemec, told the Argus Leader.

“I immediately drove to Sheriff Volek’s home to report the discovery and he accompanied me back to the scene,” Ravnsorg added. “Once there, the sheriff instructed me that he would handle the investigation, and asked me to return to Pierre.”

Ravnsborg said he is fully cooperating with the ongoing investigation, which is being conducted by the state Highway Patrol, with the assistance of the state Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Gov. Kristi Noem, The New York Times reported.

Ravnsborg said he would not be taking any questions on the crash during the investigation and that he had only issued a statement to “dispel some of the rumor and innuendo” being spread as the news broke of Boever’s death.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic nature of these events and my heartfelt condolences go out to the Boever family,” he added.