HIGHMORE, S.D. (KELO) — On the night of September 12, 2020, Highmore resident Joe Boever was walking along the shoulder of S.D. Highway 14 when he was struck and killed by a car driven by South Dakota Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg.
On February 18, it was announced that Ravnsborg would be charged with three misdemeanors offenses, each carrying a maximum penalty of 30 days in county jail and/or a $500 fine.
More information was made available Tuesday night, when the South Dakota Department of Public Safety released two interviews that were conducted with Ravnsborg.
As more details come out, the picture of what happened on that stretch of highway, though still murky, becomes a little more clear. Here is what we know so far.
On the night of Sept. 12, Ravnsborg was driving back from a Spink County GOP event held at Rooster’s Bar & Grill in Redfield. According to his statements to investigators, his route home took him west out of Redfield before turning south toward Miller, where he got onto Highway 14, heading west toward Pierre, a route that took him through Highmore.
Officials say Ravnsborg was distracted while driving west on Highway 14. While announcing charges, Hyde County Deputy State’s Attorney Emily Sovell stated that Ravnsborg had been using his mobile device.
According to the investigation, Ravnsborg’s phone was locked at 10:22:22 p.m. and the crash took place at 10:23:37 p.m. His vehicle stopped at 10:23:52 p.m.; at 10:24:06 p.m., Ravnsborg’s phone was unlocked and used to call 911 a minute later.
Ravnsborg claimed he was not using his phone at the time of the crash when investigators confronted him with phone records, telling him they showed he had logged into his Yahoo email account and accessed a news website minutes before he called 911 to report the crash.
Ravnsborg’s car struck Boever on the shoulder of the road just west of Highmore on Highway 14.
In an interview with investigators, Ravnborg describes the moments leading up to the crash.
“I went through and I saw a sign that said 65 mph, so I believe I started to accelerate, and then I saw a sign that said 48 miles to Pierre, and you know, you just kinda did one of those groans like, ‘Ugh, you’ve still got 48 miles to go,’ and then, quite frankly, Wham!” exclaimed Ravnsborg, clapping his hands together to describe the moment of impact. “I never saw anything,” he continued “until the impact.”
Ravnsborg says that following the crash, he immediately jumped out of the car and called 911. Phone records confirm this detail of his account.
Below we have put together a map of the crash site, depicting the details we currently know about about the scene.
- Ravnsborg was driving west on Highway 14. This location is just west of Highmore between mile markers 277 & 278.
- At some point along this stretch, Ravnsborg left the driving lane, drifting onto the shoulder of the highway.
- It was on the north shoulder of the road where Ravnsborg struck Boever.
- In the recordings of Ravnsborg’s interviews with investigators, he notes that the next day he discovered the body lying in the ditch after parking along the north side of the road.
- Also in the recorded interviews, investigators tell Ravnsborg that a working flashlight was found, turned on, just inches from the road next to Boever’s body.
Investigators questioned Ravnsborg about how he could have missed the flashlight shining in the dark. Ravnsborg has maintained that he did not see the light or Boever’s body that night, and he did not know that he had hit a man.