‘Do you think it was a deer or something?’: South Dakota officials release 911 audio from AG Jason Ravnsborg’s fatal crash

Jonathan Ellis and Danielle Ferguson, Sioux Falls Argus LeaderTue, October 13, 2020, 9:52 PM EDT

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — South Dakota officials Tuesday released audio of the 911 call made by state Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg on the night he struck and killed a pedestrian.

Speaking to reporters from Sioux Falls City Hall, Gov. Kristi Noem and Public Safety Secretary Craig Price provided an update on the Sept. 12 crash that killed 55-year-old Joseph Boever and remains under investigation.

“We are gathering a set of facts,” Price said. “…So we can put a full picture together of the facts that can be objectively reviewed for the benefit of everybody involved.”

In the 911 call that lasts two minutes and 22 seconds, Ravnsborg told the dispatcher he “hit something” that was “in the middle of the road.”

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The dispatcher, after asking if Ravnsborg was off the road or if he had any injuries, asked, “Do you think it was a deer or something?”

Ravnsborg replied, “I have no idea. I mean, it could be. It was right in the roadway.”

Three toxicology report documents released Tuesday showed Ravnsborg had no drugs or alcohol in his system. The samples were taken around 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon, more than 12 hours after the crash was reported.

An autopsy found Boever died of traumatic injuries due to a pedestrian and motor vehicle crash, Price said.

One month after the crash near Highways 14 and 47 in Hyde County, officials have done forensic mapping, reconstruction of the crash and gathered forensic evidence. Noem’s administration brought in the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation to assist in the investigation and a national accident reconstruction expert.

Governor Kristi Noem and Public Safety Secretary Craig Price give an update on the investigation of the Saturday Sept. 12 crash involving Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg on Tuesday, October 13, at City Hall in Sioux Falls.
Governor Kristi Noem and Public Safety Secretary Craig Price give an update on the investigation of the Saturday Sept. 12 crash involving Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg on Tuesday, October 13, at City Hall in Sioux Falls.

Some officers, Price said, have been working exclusively on the investigation, which has been slowed because of travel between South and North Dakota.

“As you can imagine, crash reconstruction is a thorough process that takes time,” he said.

Officials are working with the Hyde County State’s Attorney’s Office on whether charges are appropriate. That office has been consulting with state’s attorneys from Pennington, Minnehaha and Beadle counties.

In the days following the crash, Noem promised full transparency in the investigation including the release of the 911 call, dash cam footage, the investigation report and other materials.

Nick Nemec, Boever’s cousin, said his weekly routine has been to call the Department of Public Safety office on Monday morning to ask about the status of the investigation. Every week, he’s been told that it’s “ongoing.”

After listening to Tuesday’s update, Nemec said he doesn’t think the toxicology reports will hold much weight, considering the samples were taken roughly 15 hours after the crash.

“That’s a red herring that proves nothing,” he said.

Nemec, along with his brother, Victor, have been to the crash scene multiple times. The placement of where their cousin was at in the road, he said, will be “key.” He’s read about how South Dakota laws favor drivers over pedestrians when it comes to liability in crashes.

He’s hoping the case isn’t forgotten by South Dakotans.

“I don’t want my cousin’s death to be swept under the rug,” he said.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: South Dakota officials work to see ‘full picture’ of AG’s fatal crash

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