South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg reported hitting a deer with his car on Saturday night but actually killed a pedestrian whose body was not found until the next day, state investigators said Monday. Ravnsborg’s office has said he immediately called 911 after the accident on a rural stretch of U.S. Highway 14 and did not realize he had hit a man until the body was found.
The Department of Public Safety issued a statement Monday that said only that Ravnsborg told the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office that he had hit a deer with his 2011 Ford Taurus. The agency did not say whether he reported the crash in a 911 call.
The man, who was identified as 55-year-old Joseph Boever, was not found until Sunday morning. He had crashed his truck in that area earlier, according to relatives, and was apparently walking near the road toward it.
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem had revealed Sunday that Ravnsborg was involved in a fatal crash and said the Department of Public Safety was investigating, but neither she nor the agency had provided any details about what happened.
“I am shocked and filled with sorrow following the events of last night,” Ravnsborg said in a statement late Sunday. “As Governor Noem stated, I am fully cooperating with the investigation and I fully intend to continue do so moving forward. At this time I offer my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family.”
The Department of Public Safety says its investigation is ongoing.
Ravnsborg was driving from a Republican fundraiser in Redfield to his home some 110 miles away in Pierre, spokesman Tim Bormann said. Ravnsborg was uninjured.
It took investigators nearly 22 hours to identify Boever’s body with a family member, leaving relatives frustrated and suspicious, cousin Nick Nemec said.
Boever had crashed his truck into a hay bale near the road earlier Saturday evening, according to Nemec. Nemec’s brother Victor had given him a ride back to his home, which was about 1.5 miles away and made plans to make repairs on Sunday.
Victor Nemec told CBS affiliate KELO-TV that he questions whether or not a 911 call was made because no sirens were heard leaving Highmore Saturday night. The Nemecs said the scene was teeming with law enforcement and emergency vehicles for hours on Sunday.
“My worst fear is that they’re trying to get ducks in a row to absolve the attorney general of any wrongdoing,” Nick Nemec said.
Boever lived alone and had been separated from his wife, Nemec said.
When Boever’s cousins on Sunday saw an accident being investigated near where Boever had left his truck, they grew fearful that he was involved. They called 911 and the Highway Patrol, but were told to wait to hear back from…