PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The South Dakota Department of Public Safety released a crash report Monday that said state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s car was traveling about 65 miles per hour on the shoulder of US 14 when it struck and killed pedestrian Joe Boever.
The report’s narrative said Ravnsborg was the only person in the car and was distracted at the time of the crash on September 12. The report estimated the time at 10:21 p.m. The speed was an estimate provided to investigators by Ravnsborg.
Ravnsborg said in a past written statement to reporters that he found Boever’s body the next morning after he returned to Highmore to take back the Hyde County sheriff’s personal vehicle Ravnsborg had borrowed to continue home to Pierre the previous night.
Text accompanying the diagram in the official report Monday says, “Unit #1 driver was distracted. Unit #1 entered the north shoulder while traveling westbound. Unit #2 (pedestrian) was walking on the north shoulder. Unit #2 was struck by Unit #1. Unit #2 was carrying a light.”
The text adds, “Information found during the investigation indicates a driver distraction. The specific distraction is still under investigation.”
North Dakota investigators arrived at the crash scene at the west edge of Highmore on September 14. They were invited because South Dakota officials wanted to avoid portrayals of protecting the attorney general.
Governor Kristi Noem and state Public Safety Secretary Craig Price held a briefing for news reporters Monday morning. They released the crash report and a photo of Ravnsborg’s personal 2011 red Ford Taurus after it had been moved from the crash site.
Ravnsborg has not spoken to reporters since issuing a statement two days after the crash. A 911 transcript previously released as part of the state investigation quoted Ravnsborg telling a dispatcher he didn’t know what he hit but it was in the middle of the road.
Price said Monday he didn’t want to answer at this time why Ravnsborg was distracted. Price said Boever was carrying a light, but Price didn’t want to provide further details at this time. Price said state investigators are waiting for toxicology results on both Ravnsborg and Boever.
Price also declined to say which part of Boever’s body had been struck, which could indicate the direction Boever faced at the time Ravnsborg ran into him. Price said pedestrians should walk against oncoming traffic. Price said the full autopsy report by a Minnesota coroner hasn’t been completed.
South Dakota elects the state attorney general and only the Legislature through impeachment can remove an attorney general from office.
A Cadillac driven by then-Congressman Bill Janklow collided with and killed motorcyclist Randy Scott in Moody County in 2003. Janklow resigned from the U.S. House after he was convicted of manslaughter and served 100 days in the Minnehaha County jail.
Emily Sovell, an assistant state’s attorney for Hyde County, will decide whether to file criminal charges against Ravnsborg. Sovell, the state’s attorney for neighboring Sully County, has asked the state’s attorneys from Minnehaha, Pennington and Beadle Counties to consult with her.
“We have provided the state’s attorney many things to date,” Price said.
Governor Noem said she would refrain from expressing her personal opinion until after the investigation is complete and the state’s attorney has decided whether to file charges.
Price said he couldn’t disclose yet where the body of Boever was found. Price said investigators were still working through the timeline.
Price said there are distractions that are concretely against the law, such as texting while driving, and others that aren’t.
Price said detailed investigative work had determined Ravnsborg was distracted. “The specifics behind that would be inappropriate to release at this time,” Price said.