You may remember back in 2020 when South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravsnborg made news for hitting and killing a man with his car. The incident made national news, albeit briefly, and Ravsnborg got off easy. He was charged with a few misdemeanors for which he paid fines, never appeared in court, and — despite calls to resign from Governor Kristi Noem — stayed in office. In fact, he’s now running for re-election. So goes the modern Republican Party.
The Daily Beast reported on Monday, however, that the South Dakota GOP may have finally had it with Ravsnborg. State lawmakers last Wednesday were provided with new information about the incident in 2020, leading an increasing number of Republicans to favor impeachment. “I now have irrefutable evidence the AG knew exactly what he hit and lied to investigators and the Hyde County sheriff,” Republican state Rep. Charlie Hoffman, who had been unsure whether to impeach Ravnsborg but now supports it, told the Daily Beast.
Ravnsborg has long said he didn’t know what he hit on his way home from his Sept. 12, 2020 address at the Lincoln Day Dinner. He hit, and killed, a man named Joe Boever. Ravnsborg called 911 after the accident and said he hit something in the middle of the road. Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek responded to the call, and lent Ravnsborg his personal car to finish the drive home. Volek later admitted that he didn’t search very hard for Boever’s body, which was discovered the following day after Ravnsborg returned to the scene.
Toxicology reports show that Ravnsborg was not under the influence at the time of the crash, but he does have a history of careless driving. Less than two months before he killed Ravnsborg, he almost crashed into a police car after swerving over a lane boundary, forcing the officer to slam on his brakes to avoid being hit, according to a police report. Last August, he was issued his seventh speeding ticket in two years. He has also admitted he was on his phone looking at a story about Joe Biden and China just before he killed Boever.
The presentation from the South Dakota Highway Patrol last week appears to contradict Ravnsborg’s account of the events, at least according to Hoffman and other lawmakers. It turns out that Ravnsborg drove with Boever on his vehicle for at least 100 feet, and that Boever’s head was through Ravnsborg’s windshield (Boever’s glasses were even found inside Ravnsborg’s car). Boever’s body eventually fell off on the vehicle, leg severed. He had died on impact.
“After seeing the length of time Mr. Boever’s body was on the AG’s car with his head inside of the AG’s car’s window, and then flying off hitting the middle of the lane behind the AG’s car, leaving bone fragments on the road and skidding into the ditch at 65 mph, my mind has changed,” Hoffman told the Daily Beast of his decision to support impeachment.
The troopers also said they believed Ravnsborg did not hit Boever in the middle of the road, as Ravnsborg had claimed. “The area of impact was so far off the roadway, it takes him so long to stop, as we described,” Patrol Troopers John Berndt said on Wednesday, according to the Daily Beast. “The amount of evidence found in the vehicle and around where the impact happened—we don’t know what happened, we just know it wasn’t normal.”
Republican state Rep. Fred Deutsch also told the Daily Beast he now supports impeachment, calling it perhaps “the most difficult decision I’ve had to make in my life.” Several other Republicans want to boot Ravnsborg out of office, as well, as does Noem. “Like many South Dakotans, I am not only disappointed in how this process was handled by prosecutors, but outraged at the result of today’s plea hearing and sentencing,” she said last August after Ravnsborg pleaded his way out of standing trial. “Ravnsborg has not accepted responsibility for the death of Joseph Boever and did not even appear in court today to face the charges or the Boever family. ”
Thirty-six of the state’s 70 House representatives would need to vote in favor of impeaching Ravnsborg for the matter to move to the state Senate.