South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg reported hitting a deer with his car on Saturday night when he had actually killed a pedestrian, whose body was not found until the following day, according to the South Dakota Department of Public Safety.
The Department of Public Safety issued a statement on Monday that said that Ravnsborg told the Hyde County Sheriff's Office that he had hit a deer with his 2011 Ford Taurus.
Ravnsborg Called 911 to Report Hitting a 'Large Animal'
Ravnsborg, 44, said he immediately called 911 after the accident, which took place on a rural stretch of U.S. Highway 14 at about 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. He said he thought his vehicle hit a large animal and he stopped to investigate before dialling 911 to report the incident.
He says he even used his cell phone flashlight to look around but did not realize he had hit a man until the body was discovered on Sunday morning. Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek also surveyed the area when he arrived, according to Ravnsborg. With his vehicle badly damaged, Volek offered to let Ravnsborg drive the sheriff's personal vehicle back to his residence in Pierre.
The following morning, Ravnsborg says he and his chief of staff drove back to Highmore to return Volek's vehicle and stopped by the crash scene, when they found the body. The deceased man was identified as 55-year-old Joseph Boever, who was struck while he was walking back to his crashed pick-up truck that he had parked in a ditch along the highway.
Ravnsborg Cited for Speeding 6 Times
The crash took place while Ravnsborg was returning from a GOP Lincoln Day dinner in Redfield. but denies drinking at the event before the collision. However, the attorney general does have a history of speeding.
Ravnsborg has received six traffic tickets for speeding in South Dakota over the last six years. According to KELO, Ravnsborg was cited twice for speeding in 2018 -- once for going 40 mph in a 35 mph zone in Beadle County and once for going 80 mph in a 65 mph zone in Pennington County. The station reports he also paid for two speeding tickets in Iowa in 1996 and 2003.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said in a news conference Sunday that the South Dakota Highway Patrol will conduct an investigation of the collision, which will be overseen by Cabinet Secretary for the South Dakota Department of Public Safety Craig Price.
"We are currently working the investigation as referenced by Governor Noem in Hyde County," Price said Sunday. "South Dakota Highway Patrol routinely investigates fatality crashes across our state and we will handle this as we would any other fatal crash."
"I am shocked and filled with sorrow following the events of last night," Ravnsborg said in a statement late Sunday. "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."