U.S. News

South Dakota AG was ‘distracted’ when he hit, killed pedestrian with car: Investigation

South Dakota Department of Public Safety

South Dakota Department of Public SafetyBy JULIA JACOBO, ABC News

(HIGHMORE, S.D.) — South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg was “distracted” when he fatally struck a pedestrian on a highway in September, an investigation of the crash has found.

On Sept. 12, Ravnsborg was driving west on U.S. Highway 14, about a mile west of Highmore, South Dakota, when he hit and killed the 55-year-old victim, Joseph Boever.

Ravnsborg, 44, initially thought he hit a deer, he told authorities, but discovered Boever’s body when he returned to the scene the next day. He previously disclosed that he called 911 and searched a ditch with police using a cell phone flashlight looking for the deer at around 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 12.

On Monday, authorities released the crash report and a photo of Ravnsborg’s 2011 Ford Taurus three days after the investigation, after it was processed for evidence.

The investigation determined that Ravnsborg was distracted when he struck Boever, South Dakota Department of Public Safety Secretary Craig Price told reporters during a press conference Monday.

Boever was carrying a light while walking on the shoulder of Highway 14, which measures about 10.5 feet, when he was struck, Price said, but would not give details on the type of light Boever had or the specific location on where his body was found. It is unclear in which direction he was walking, Price said.

The initial cause of death was listed as traumatic injuries — both internal and external.

Ravnsborg was alone in his car at the time, but the exact time of the crash has not yet been determined, Price said, adding that when the Hyde County sheriff responded to the scene, he did not detail his time of arrival. The speed limit in the location of the crash is 65 mph, but Price did not disclose how fast Raynsborg was traveling.

The “type or types of distraction” that caused Ravnsborg to hit Boever are still under investigation, Price said. When asked by a reporter how authorities can be confident Ravnsborg was distracted when they don’t know what the distraction was, Price replied that it was “detailed investigative work,” adding that “the specifics behind that would be inappropriate to release at this time.”

Ravnsborg was not placed under administrative leave and continued to work after the crash, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem said last month.

On Monday, when asked by a reporter whether she would ask Ravnsborg for a resignation, Noem replied, “I’m going to refrain from expressing my personal opinions until the investigation is totally complete” and wait to see whether the state’s attorney makes a decision on whether to file charges.

The final autopsy report and other forensic examinations are still pending, Price said.

Tim Bormann, Ravnsborg’s chief of staff, told ABC News last month that the attorney general was driving home from a dinner party hosted by the county’s Republican Party at Rooster’s Bar & Grill in Redfield, South Dakota, roughly 68 miles from the site of the accident.

Bormann said he does not believe Ravnsborg drank at the event, saying “it has been his policy” to not drink at “political events of this sort.”

The attorney general’s office previously said Ravnsborg stayed on the scene after making the 911 call.

Ravnsborg, who was elected in 2018, has a string of previous driving violations, according to state records. He pleaded guilty to speeding six times between 2014 and 2018 and paid fines between $19 and $79, according to state records.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.