PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has been charged with three misdemeanors in connection with a deadly crash in September 2020.
Hyde County Deputy State’s Attorney Emily Sovell announced Ravnsborg will be charged with operating a vehicle while using a mobile electronic device, illegal lane change and careless driving.
55-year-old Joe Boever was killed when he was hit by Ravnsborg’s vehicle as he was walking on the shoulder of Highway 14 west of Highmore last September.
Sovell says Ravnsborg was east of Highmore when he used his mobile electronic device; the investigation found his phones were 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.
Sovell was joined by Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore, who was part of a team of prosecutors who worked on the case.
Moore said Boever’s family is not happy with the state’s charging decision, but that victims don’t make that decision. He went on to say that Ravnsborg could not be charged with vehicular homicide because such a charge requires the driver of the vehicle to be intoxicated.
Each of the misdemeanors Ravnsborg is charged with carry a maximum penalty of 30 days in county jail, a $500 fine, or both.
Asked if Ravnsborg would be arrested, Sovell said that a complaint had been filed, and that a judge would likely issue a summons to appear in court. When she was asked if an average citizen would have been arrested, or allowed to go about their daily business in this situation, Sovell said that they would not have been treated differently than Ravnsborg.
Boever’s cousin Nick Nemec, who was called to identify the body, spoke out following the announcement. Nemec told KELOLAND News that he had feared that the charge would be along the lines of ‘crossing the white line’. He said he was disappointed, but not surprised by the decision, saying that the state law was weak on this point.
Nemec also told us that he would like to see Ravnsborg found guilty on all three charges, receiving three 30-day sentences served consecutively. Nemec says he is confident that there will be a civil suit brought by the family.
Governor Kristi Noem made a statement on Twitter following the charging announcement, offering her condolences to Boever’s family, and saying that she has directed the Department of Public Safety to share additional details of the investigation with the public.
Noem had previously said the slow pace of the investigation was “a grave disservice to the victim’s family”, and that she has been disappointed by the lack of action.
My heart goes out to Joseph Boever’s family. I am not going to comment on the specifics of Ms. Sovell’s decision. I am directing the Department of Public Safety to share additional details of the investigation with the public within the next week.— Governor Kristi Noem (@govkristinoem) February 18, 2021
Published at 9:57 a.m.
A prosecutor will be announcing Thursday whether criminal charges will be filed against South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
A crash report says Ravnsborg was distracted on September 12, 2020, and driving on the shoulder of Highway 14 west of Highmore when he hit and killed Joe Boever. Initially, Ravnsborg said he wasn’t sure what he hit; he thought maybe it was a deer.
The next morning, he drove back and discovered Boever’s body near the highway.