PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Two members of the South Dakota Highway Patrol told state legislators Wednesday about the investigation into the crash two years ago when the car driven by South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg struck and killed pedestrian Joe Boever at the west edge of Highmore.
Two state representatives who attended, Will Mortenson, R-Pierre, and Tim Goodwin, R-Rapid City, said the presentation didn’t change their minds about the need to impeach Ravnsborg. Mortenson sponsored the original impeachment resolution last year. Representative Dean Wink, R-Howes, also asked questions in person.
Approximately 30 other legislators reportedly participated in a Zoom conference. Among those asking questions were representatives Mary Fitzgerald, R-Spearfish; Linda Duba, D-Sioux Falls; Fred Deutsch, R-Florence; Charlie Hoffman, R-Eureka; Ryan Cwach, D-Yankton; Oren Lesmeister, D-Parade; and John Mills, R-Volga.
The House returns on April 12 to the state Capitol to decide whether to impeach Ravnsborg. If a majority of at least 36 vote for impeachment, he would be suspended from duties until the Senate can hold a trial. At least 24 senators would need to vote to convict for him to be permanently removed.
Trooper John Berndt said the investigation showed Ravnsborg’s car was completely on the 10-foot shoulder when it hit Boever, who was walking east along the shoulder of the westbound lane of US 14. Ravnsborg’s car was headed west.
Boever’s face smashed through the windshield and his body stayed on the right front fender for about 125 feet before sliding off. His severed lower leg was found another 25 feet beyond.
Sergeant Kevin Kinney said a similar presentation was prepared for the House Select Committee on Investigation but the panel only wanted to ask questions. The committee voted 6-2 along Republican-Democrat lines to recommend against impeaching Ravnsborg, a Republican.
Others in the audience Wednesday included Boever’s widow, Jennifer, and her mother, as well as two of Boever’s cousins, Victor Nemec and Nick Nemec.
Governor Kristi Noem, a Republican, has repeatedly urged Ravnsborg’s resignation and called on the House to impeach him if he doesn’t step down.
Trooper Berndt said Ravnsborg’s car stopped 614 feet from the point of impact. He said a motorist making a panic stop would have stopped in 174 feet.
Berndt was asked what distracted Ravnsborg. “We don’t know the answer, other than it’s not normal,” Berndt answered.
Ravnsborg told investigators he looked around that night to see what he had hit but didn’t find anything. He returned the next morning and found Boever’s body.
Berndt said investigators believe that Ravnsborg walked past the body twice that night. Boever was left naked from the shoulders down by the impact and was discovered laying in calf-high grass about two feet off the shoulder.
Berndt was asked why no other passing motorist saw Boever’s body the night of the crash or the next morning. He said the ditch was steep and the angle might have kept the body out of view of vehicles traveling by.
“But once you got out of the vehicle, you could definitely see,” Berndt said.
The 90-minute presentation is available here on the state Department of Public Safety website. There are many other documents and reports there as well.