SD AG involved in fatal crash near Redfield

Redfield PRESS Staff report
REDFIELD — After attending the Lincoln Day dinner held in Redfield at Roosters Bar and Grill on Saturday, Sept. 12, S.D. Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg struck  55-year-old Joseph Boever with his vehicle on Highway 14 at 10:30 p.m. while driving home.

The accident resulted in Boever’s death.  Investigations are ongoing into whether or not alcohol was a factor contributing to the accident. Rooster’s Bar and Grill declined to comment to the Redfield Press on whether or not Ravnsborg was served alcohol at the Lincoln Day Dinner. However, attendees, such as Kayla Weis, wife of Republican Representative Kaleb Weis, said that alcohol was not present.

“No one had alcohol.  I am sure he was exhausted because he got back from Rapid City Lincoln Day at 1 a.m. and then came to Redfield that afternoon,” said Mrs. Weis.

Ravnsborg’s office also made a statement on Monday that he had not been drinking before the crash.

According to Boever’s cousin, Victor Nemec, Boever had crashed his truck into a hay bale near the road earlier that evening while he was “reaching for tobacco.” Nemec had given Boever a ride home, which was about a mile and a half away. They made plans to make repairs to the pickup on Sunday. Nemec then left Boever after 9 p.m.

Sometime after Nemec left, Boever began the mile and a half walk on foot back to his pickup. While walking, he was struck by Ravnsborg’s vehicle.

According to spokesman Tim Bormann, Ravnsborg was driving alone and called 911 “right after the accident,” assuming he had hit a deer. Bormann said in an email to the Sioux Falls Argus Leader that his understanding was that Ravnsborg had made the call from the location of his vehicle.

The accident is still under investigation.

UPDATE: The following news release was written by Ravnsborg:

As reported by many news outlets, I was involved in an accident on Saturday, September 12, 2020, that tragically involved a pedestrian who was walking on Highway 14 near Highmore, South Dakota. I have not made a statement before now because the matter is being investigated by the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation and I want to respect that process and let it happen without any interference or appearance of impropriety on my part. However, it has come to my attention that there are many rumors and stories being told and reported which do not represent a full and factual account of what happened. For this reason, I’m issuing this statement but will not answer questions about this matter until the official investigation is complete.

On September 12, 2020, I attended the Spink County Lincoln Day Dinner in Redfield, South Dakota. I arrived in Redfield at about 4:45 p.m. and left the dinner at approximately 9:15. I consumed no alcoholic beverages before, during or after the event. While on my way back to Pierre and shortly after leaving the town of Highmore, my vehicle struck something that I believed to be a large animal (likely a deer). I didn’t see what I hit and stopped my vehicle immediately to investigate. I immediately called 911 to report the accident and the Hyde County Sheriff came to the scene.

I looked around the vehicle in the dark and saw nothing to indicate what I had hit. All I could see were pieces of my vehicle laying on and around the roadway. Because it was dark and I didn’t have a flashlight, I used my cell phone flashlight to survey the ditch but couldn’t see anything. When Sheriff Volek arrived at the scene he asked me if I was o.k. and surveyed the damage at the scene and to my vehicle. Sheriff Volek filled out the necessary paperwork to properly report the accident and gave me the tag that is required to get my vehicle repaired. At no time did either of us suspect that I had been involved in an accident with a person. Because my car was damaged too severely to safely drive, a wrecker was called. The nearest tow service that services the Highmore area is out of Pierre and Sheriff Volek advised me that it could take well over an hour before the tow truck would arrive.

As a result, he graciously offered to loan me his personal vehicle so I could drive back to Pierre. We drove a short distance from the scene to his home, I borrowed his vehicle and arrived back in Pierre just before midnight. During the drive back to Pierre, I called my chief of staff and told him about the accident and the fact that I had borrowed Sheriff Volek’s vehicle to drive home. He and I made arrangements to return the sheriff’s vehicle the next morning.

On Sunday morning, my chief of staff and I left Pierre at about 8:00 a.m., I drove Sheriff Volek’s vehicle to Highmore and filled the tank with gas. As we were driving to return the vehicle to Sheriff Volek’s home, the debris field from my accident was still on the road so my chief of staff and I stopped to see if the animal that I thought I hit was in the ditch. As I walked along the shoulder of the road I discovered the body of Mr. Boever in the grass just off the roadway. My chief of staff and I checked and it was apparent that Mr. Boever was deceased. I immediately drove to Sheriff Volek’s home to report the  discovery and he accompanied me back to the scene. Once there, the Sheriff instructed me that he would handle the investigation, and asked me to return to Pierre.

I‘ve been cooperating fully with the investigation and have agreed to a search of both of my cell phones, provided a blood draw, and have given the investigators the names of anyone at the dinner who can confirm that I was not drinking alcohol at any time during the event. I also sat down with the agents investigating this matter and have provided them with a full face to face interview answering any and all questions they have of me.

I‘m deeply saddened by the tragic nature of these events and my heartfelt condolences go out to the Boever family. As stated previously, I am providing this information to try and dispel some of the rumor and innuendo that are being spread in the wake of this tragedy. That being said, I will not be answering questions at this time and will give this investigation the respect that it deserves. Once the investigation is complete I will make myself available to answer questions that may exist; however, I have full confidence in the thoroughness of the job being done by the South Dakota Highway Patrol and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which I believe will answer most if not all questions that the people of South Dakota may have.

— Jason R. Ravnsborg


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