Authorities in South Dakota are currently investigating an incident in which the state's Attorney General, Jason Ravnsborg, claimed that he had hit a deer with his car. Instead it looks like he actually hit (and killed) a man. The crash happened on Saturday night, while the man's body was discovered on Sunday morning.
Ravnsborg's office claims he was unaware that he had hit a person until the body was found, according to the AP. A statement was issued on Monday by the Department of Public Safety in which it was only said that the AG told the local sheriff's office that he'd struck a deer.
The deceased pedestrian was identified as 55-year-old Joseph Boever. Relatives claim that he had crashed his truck in the area earlier in the night and that he was apparently walking towards his vehicle when he was hit.
South Dakota's Governor, Kristi Noem, said that the Department of Public Safety was investigating a fatal crash that Ravnsborg was involved in, though no further details were provided. Also participating in the investigation is the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation. The reason for the pitch-in by the neighboring state is that the South Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation (which would normally fulfill those duties) is part of the AG's office.
A statement was issued by Ravnsborg on Sunday in which he claimed to be "shocked and filled with sorrow." More details weren't given there either, though his office said that he wasn't drinking before the crash occurred.
Ravnsborg had been driving to his home from a Republican fundraiser when the accident happened.
Victor Nemec, a cousin of the victim, relayed that relatives are frustrated and suspicious after it took almost a full day to identify Boever's body through a family member.
Nemec further says that Boever struck a hay bale with his truck on Saturday evening after he says he reached for some tobacco. Nemec reports that he gave him a ride home from that accident, and that "there was no indication whatsoever" that Boever had been drinking. The two separated around 9 p.m., with the fatal crash happening around 10:30 p.m.
“A human doesn’t look like a deer,” Nemec added. “The whole thing stinks to me.”
As for the events on Sunday, Nemec says that he couldn't find his cousin at his home and that he grew suspicious that something bad had happened after seeing an accident investigation occurring near the spot where Boever had left his truck. He says he called the sheriff at about 10 a.m. and was instructed to wait. He got no response and ended up calling both 911 and the highway patrol in the evening, around 5 p.m.
Boever's body was allowed to be identified around 8 p.m.
As stated above, Ravnsborg had been at a fundraiser known as a Lincoln Day Dinner. He is said to frequently be in attendance at those dinners, which are run by county GOP groups and take place throughout the state.
A spokesman, Tim Bormann, claims the AG makes a habit not to drink at those events.
A local state senator who was also in attendance, Brock Greenfield, says "I didn’t see him with anything but a Coke."
The Associated Press reports that Ravnsborg has gotten six traffic tickets over the last six years for speeding. He's also received tickets for infractions that include: a seatbelt violation, and for driving without a proper exhaust and muffler system.
The investigation remains ongoing.