SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said in a statement late Monday that he realized he had struck and killed a man walking along a rural stretch of highway only after returning to the scene the next day and discovering the body.
The state's top law enforcement officer said he initially thought he hit a deer while driving home from a Republican fundraiser on Saturday night. He is under investigation by the South Dakota Highway Patrol.
Ravnsborg said he immediately called 911 after the crash on U.S. Highway 14 and that he didn't realize he had hit a man until he returned to the scene the next morning and found him while looking for the animal he thought he had hit.
Authorities identified the dead man as 55-year-old Joseph Boever, who had crashed his truck in that area earlier, according to relatives, and was apparently walking toward it near the road when he was hit.
Republican Gov. Kristi Noem revealed Sunday that Ravnsborg had been involved in a fatal crash and asked the Department of Public Safety to investigate, but neither she nor the agency provided any details at that point.
The Department of Public Safety issued a statement earlier Monday saying only that Ravnsborg told the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office he had hit a deer. Department spokesman Tony Mangan would not confirm whether Ravnsborg called 911, saying it is part of the investigation.
The North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation is also participating in the investigation. The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, which would normally be involved, is part of the attorney general's office. It is standard practice to request an outside agency to conduct an investigation when there may be a conflict of interest.
Ravnsborg said Sunday he was “shocked and filled with sorrow." He released a second statement on Monday night detailing his account of the accident, saying it was necessary to dispel rumors.