South Dakota AG Says He Thought He Hit a Deer, but Found Man's Body the Next Day

South Dakota AG Jason Ravnsborg

South Dakota AG Jason Ravnsborg AP Photo

 

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STATE AND LOCAL NEWS ROUNDUP | Wisconsin Supreme Court decision keeps Green Party off presidential ballot and allows absentee ballots to be sent out … Reward offered to identify suspect in shooting that seriously injured Los Angeles sheriff deputies … Hurricane Sally rapidly intensifies as it nears Gulf Coast.

The South Dakota Highway Patrol is investigating South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg for a car crash that killed a pedestrian. Ravnsborg on Saturday night called the authorities to report that he hit a deer with his Ford Taurus. But on Monday morning officials said that Ravnsborg hadn’t struck a deer, but 55-year-old Joe Boever. On Monday night, after extensive news coverage of the incident and questions raised by Boever's family, Ravnsborg released a two-page statement saying that after he called 911 the night of the crash, the local sheriff came to the scene. Before Sheriff Mike Volek arrived, Ravnsborg said he used his cell phone flashlight to look in the ditch. “All I could see were pieces of my vehicle laying on and around the roadway,” he said in the statement. Neither Ravnsborg nor Volek saw anything to indicate he had struck a person, he said, and had his car towed. Ravnsborg then borrowed Volek's personal vehicle and drove home to Pierre, calling his chief of staff that night. They then drove back the next morning and re-examined the crash scene, finding Boever's body. "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," Ravnsborg said. Boever's family on Monday said they feared the case would not be properly investigated. “A deer doesn’t look like a human,” said Victor Nemec, Boever’s cousin. “This state is known for covering up wrongdoing of elected officials all the time,” Nemec said. Department of Public Safety Secretary Craig Price pledged that the case will be handled “as we would any other fatal crash.” The AG had been driving home to Pierre from the Spink County Lincoln Day Dinner, a political fundraiser, at Rooster’s Bar & Grill in Redfield. He says he wasn't drinking alcohol that night. “I’ve been cooperating fully with the investigation and have agreed to a search of both of my cellphones, 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,” Ravnsborg said in his statement.  [Washington Post; Argus Leader; Rapid City Journal; CBS]

WISCONSIN BALLOTS | The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that the Green Party will be kept off the state’s ballots, a decision that means more than a million absentee ballots will be mailed on Thursday as planned. The Green Party had challenged a state Elections Commission decision that kept the party off the presidential ballot. But local elections officials argued it was too late for a challenge, as many ballots are already printed and need to go out this week. [Journal Sentinel]

LOS ANGELES DEPUTIES | A $100,000 reward is being offered to help identify the person who critically injured two Los Angeles County sheriff deputies in what authorities are calling an ambush shooting. A surveillance video shows a man approach a parked patrol car in Compton and without provocation open fire and run away. Sheriff Alex Villanueva said the deputies came out of surgeries and seemed likely to recover. Both deputies, a 31-year-old mother and a 24-year-old man, graduated from the sheriff’s office academy 14 months ago. “These are real people doing a tough job,” Villanueva said, “and it just shows just the dangers of the job, in the blink of an eye.” [CBS; CNN; Los Angeles Times]

CONTACT TRACING WOES | People who’ve tested positive for Covid-19 in New Jersey often aren’t answering questions from contact tracers. While more than 80% will answer the initial calls, almost 80% aren’t cooperating. Gov. Phil Murphy begged people to start responding to the state’s 1,800 contact tracers, emphasizing the information won’t be passed on to law enforcement. “It’s not a witch hunt,” he said. In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced a new program to work with community groups to ramp up hiring of contact tracers. The city is far behind where they said they would be earlier this year in hiring and training the staff who would reach out to people who got sick. [Associated Press; Chicago Tribune

HURRICANE SALLY | Tropical storm Sally quickly strengthened into a hurricane on Monday and is expected to make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning as a category 2 or 3 storm. The storm could produce dangerous storm surge from southeast Louisiana to the Florida panhandle, the National Hurricane Center warned.  

On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, people in low-lying areas were told to evacuate, with authorities warning they might not be able to get to them right away. “Don’t mess around with this storm. If the water gets too high, we might not be able to get to you,” Bay St. Louis Deputy Chief Alvin Kingston said. One of the biggest threats from Sally, predicted to slow to a crawl as it moves on shore, could end up being rainfall, with New Orleans predicted to get as much as 10 inches by Thursday and other areas possibly seeing as much as 24 inches. [Sun Herald; NOLA.com]

Editor's note: This roundup was updated after publication with information from Jason Ravnsborg's statement, released Monday night.  

Laura Maggi is the managing editor of Route Fifty

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