The top law enforcement official in South Dakota reported hitting a deer over the weekend but investigators later discovered that he had actually struck a man.
The victim, identified as 55-year-old Joseph Boever of Highmore, was found dead on Sunday morning.
The South Dakota Department of Public Safety said Monday that Republican Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg told the Hyde County Sheriff’s Office that he had been involved in a car-deer crash while driving on Saturday night.
Ravnsborg was driving a 2011 Ford Taurus westbound on U.S. Highway 14. Ravnsborg was on his way to his house from a Republican fundraiser in Redfield, spokesman Tom Bormann told The Associated Press.
Bormann said the attorney general does drink, but does not drink at Lincoln Day events like the one he attended over the weekend.
Republican State Sen. Brock Greenfield, who also attended the dinner, told the outlet, “I didn’t see him with anything but a Coke.”
The state’s Highway Patrol is investigating the crash.
In a statement late Sunday, Ravnsborg said, “I am shocked and filled with sorrow following the events of last night.”
“As Governor Noem stated, I am fully cooperating with the investigation and I fully intend to continue do so moving forward. At this time I offer my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family,” he added.
Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, held a brief press conference on Sunday and said the attorney general had been involved in a fatal crash.
“We will handle this as we would any other fatal crash,” Public Safety Secretary Craig Price said at the briefing. “We have officers that are responding, we have officers that are highly trained and investigating these types of incidents, and they’re the ones that are that are working the incident.”
Noem said Price will deliver the results of the investigation to her.
Nick Nemec, the victim’s cousin, told SDPB that his family wonders how the attorney general thought he hit a deer.
“We want answers, why it’s taken so long for authorities to get their ducks in a row,” Nemec said. “It sounds like that’s what they’re trying to do, is get their ducks in a row and it stinks.”