South Dakota’s Republican attorney general — who thought he had hit a deer when he fatally struck a pedestrian on the highway last year — was hit with misdemeanor charges, authorities announced Thursday.
Jason Ravnsborg, 44, faces three counts of careless driving, operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile electronic device and veering out of his lane, according to Emily Sovell, deputy Hyde County state’s attorney.
If convicted of the top charge, he faces up to one year in jail for the Sept. 12 accident that took the life of Joseph Boever, 55.
Sovell said the evidence didn’t support more serious felony raps, and that Ravnsborg was not intoxicated at the time of the incident.
He provided a blood sample taken about 15 hours after the deadly collision, which showed no alcohol in his system.
After the crash, Ravnsborg told authorities that he thought he had plowed his 2011 Ford Taurus into a deer or another large animal as he drove on US Highway 14 at about 10:30 p.m.
He was on his way home from a GOP fundraiser at Rooster’s Bar and Grill, where attendees were offered the chance to win a handgun engraved with then-President Trump’s name, according to the South Dakota GOP’s website.
His spokesman, Tim Bormann, told a local paper that he hadn’t imbibed any alcohol prior to getting behind the wheel and called 911 right after the accident.
Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore said Boever’s family was displeased that Ravnsborg didn’t face more serious charges.
“They obviously don’t like our decision in this case, but as we all know, victims don’t make this decision,” Moore said.
Ravnsborg, who was elected to his first term in 2018, was distracted when he swerved into Boever, who was walking on the highway’s shoulder, according to crash investigators.
The South Dakota Highway Patrol — with the help of the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation handled the probe. The South Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which answers to the attorney general, recused itself.
With the Associated Press