Investigators from two states are looking into a fatal accident that took place in South Dakota on Saturday night and involved state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who initially told the authorities his car hit a deer.
Ravnsborg, 44, was traveling west on U.S. Highway 14, one mile west of Highmore, S.D., in his Ford Taurus and allegedly struck Joseph Boever, 55, around 10:30 p.m., according to South Dakota’s Highway Patrol.
“The driver . . . told the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office that he had been involved in a car-deer crash. The driver was not injured,” the highway patrol said in a news release.
Boever’s body was found the next morning, according to the highway patrol.
Boever’s cousin, Victor Nemec, told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that Boever’s truck hit a pile of hay earlier in the day and he was given a ride back home. He said he was supposed to go back to his cousin’s home on Sunday to assist in fixing the truck.
Nemec said he thinks Boever walked along the highway Saturday night to get to the truck.
Nemec told ABC affiliate Dakota News Now he hasn’t been contacted by the state and he believes it is being tight-lipped about the investigation.
“It seems like there has been a lot of foot-dragging and lack of investigating going on,” Nemec told the station.
Tim Bormann, Ravnsborg’s chief of staff, told ABC News that the attorney general was driving home from a dinner party hosted by the county’s Republican Party at Rooster’s Bar & Grill in Redfield, S.D., roughly 68 miles from the accident site. The “Lincoln Day Dinner,” which charged guests $50 in advance and $30 at the door, included a raffle to win a .45 handgun with “Donald Trump 45th,” and “Make America Great Again” engraved into the barrel, according to the event’s page on the South Dakota Republican Party’s website.
Bormann said he doesn’t believe that Ravnsborg drank at the event.
“It has been his policy since the time he was a candidate that he does not typically drink at Lincoln Day Dinners or political events of this sort. We have no reason to doubt that he did not continue that trend,” he told ABC News.
The attorney general’s office said that Ravnsborg stayed on the scene after making the 911 call.
The South Dakota Dept. of Public Safety, which includes highway patrol, did not immediately provide ABC News with further details about the accident citing the ongoing investigation.
Ravnsborg was working from home Monday and said in a statement that he will cooperate with the investigation.
“At this time I offer my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family,” he said in a statement.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem first revealed the news of the accident Sunday evening. In addition to the South Dakota Highway Patrol, the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation will investigate the fatal accident, since the South Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation is under the attorney general’s jurisdiction, according to Bormann.
Ravnsborg, who was elected in 2018, has a string of previous driving violations, according to state records. He pleaded guilty to speeding six times between 2014 and 2018 and paid fines between $19 and $79, according to state records.
He was also cited for a seat belt violation in 2017 and paid a $25 fine, according to state records.
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Investigators have not determined if speeding was a factor in Saturday’s accident.
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