The body of Joseph Boever, 55, was discovered the morning after the Saturday night collision on a rural highway

By Jeff Truesdell
September 14, 2020 03:14 PM
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South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg
Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP/Shutterstock

A pedestrian is dead after authorities say he was struck by a vehicle driven by South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, who initially reported he'd struck a deer on a dark rural highway.

The accident occurred about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, South Dakota Department of Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Craig Price said at a news conference Sunday, where Gov. Kristi Noem announced Ravnsborg's involvement in the fatal crash.

The body of Joseph Boever, 55, of Highmore, was discovered Sunday morning, the South Dakota Highway Patrol said in a news release.

Ravnsborg, 44, was traveling alone in his Ford Taurus at the time of the accident on U.S. Highway 14 west of Highmore, and was not injured, his chief of staff Tim Bormann told the Argus Leader via email on Monday.

A spokesman for the highway patrol, Tony Mangan, tells PEOPLE that the agency is overseeing the investigation at the governor's request and that one of the questions to be reviewed is when a 911 call was placed.

The attorney general's chief of staff told the Argus Leader that Ravnsborg “placed the call to 911 right after the accident, my understanding is that he called from the location of his vehicle."

Ravnsborg expressed his belief that he'd been involved in a deer-car collision in a conversation with the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office, according to the highway patrol.

No charges have been filed, and the highway patrol in its statement did not address whether any factors such as speeding were involved.

"The investigation is ongoing," Mangan tells PEOPLE.

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Victor Nemec, a cousin of the victim, said Boever told him he'd damaged his white Ford pickup Saturday night when Boever drove off the road while reaching for his tobacco and struck a hay bale, reports the Argus Leader. Nemec showed up at Boever's house on Sunday morning to pick him up so the two of them could go fix it.

He encountered Boever's house unlocked and with the overnight lights still on, and believes Boever decided not to wait and was walking back to the truck when he was struck.

“The attorney general hit my cousin as he was walking down the side of the road and killed him,” he alleged.

Ravnsborg was returning to his home in Pierre from a political fundraiser in Redfield, where he attended a dinner hosted by the Spink County Republicans at Rooster’s Bar & Grill, but had not been drinking before the crash, according to his spokesman, reports the Associated Press.

Ravnsborg was elected in 2018 to his office, in which he serves as the chief law enforcement officer and legal advisor for the state.