PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The fatal crash that killed Joe Boever as he walked along the north shoulder of US 14 just west of Highmore on the night of September 14, 2020, was not uncommon for South Dakota.
The Highmore man was one of 11 pedestrians who lost their lives in the state last year after being struck by motor vehicles.
What made his death stand out more was the driver: South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
Emily Sovell, the Hyde County deputy state’s attorney, announced Thursday she had charged Ravnsborg with three 2nd-class misdemeanors.
None directly resulted from his car striking Boever. Each is punishable by up to 30 days in county jail and a maximum $500 fine if Ravnsborg is found guilty.
Sovell told reporters the misdemeanors were the most severe she could charge, given the available evidence.
South Dakota has averaged at least one pedestrian death every one to two months for at least the past decade.
From 2010 through 2020, state Department of Public Safety data show 88 pedestrians were struck and died. By comparison, 27 people died in crashes of ATVs and UTVs and 8 bicyclists died.
Yet nearly every other state had more pedestrian fatalities that South Dakota did in recent years.
National data for 2015 through 2019 showed only Vermont with 26, North Dakota at 30 and Wyoming with 32 had less. Among South Dakota’s other neighbors, Montana had 71, Nebraska 95, Iowa 113 and Minnesota 224.
“In each year, South Dakota was among the states with the fewest pedestrian fatalities,” DPS spokesman Tony Mangan said.
South Dakota by the numbers:
2010 — 140 total fatalities, 9 pedestrian fatalities.
2011 — 111 total fatalities, 7 pedestrian fatalities.
2012 — 133 total fatalities, 2 pedestrian fatalities.
2013 — 135 total fatalities, 9 pedestrian fatalities.
2014 — 136 total fatalities, 9 pedestrian fatalities.
2015 — 134 total fatalities, 6 pedestrian fatalities.
2016 — 116 total fatalities, 6 pedestrian fatalities.
2017 — 129 total fatalities, 10 pedestrian fatalities.
2018 — 130 total fatalities, 11 pedestrian fatalities.
2019 — 102 total fatalities, 8 pedestrian fatalities.
2020 — 135 total fatalities, 11 pedestrian fatalities.
Source: South Dakota Department of Public Safety.