Impeachment committee hears attorney general was 'almost into the ditch' at point of impact
The South Dakota Highway Patrol trooper who reconstructed a fatal crash involving Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said Ravnsborg was distracted while driving that night.
Those comments were made Tuesday during a first day of House Select Committee on Investigation hearings.
South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper John Berndt discovered the flashlight Joe Boever was carrying the night Boever was struck and killed while walking alongside a highway in September 2020.
Berndt was subpoenaed by the House committee, which is determining whether to recommend articles of impeachment against Ravnsborg. Berndt is one of several officials who investigated and reviewed the fatal car crash.
Ravnsborg was travelling at about 65 miles per hour when he struck Boever.
Berndt determined Ravnsborg's car crossed a rumble strip on the side of the highway, and it took Ravnsborg about 600 feet — the length of two football fields — to stop after striking Boever. Berndt said that should generally take less than 200 feet.
“He’s not just driving on the shoulder a little ways,” Berndt said. “Based on what I show and what the calculations show is that he’s driving so far onto the shoulder that he’s almost into the ditch when he strikes Mr. Boever. To drive that far onto the shoulder, to take that long to stop, to say that you never saw the person and their face came through your windshield—I’m sorry, but that’s a distraction.”
Other officials testified that all of Ravnsborg’s tires were on the shoulder at the point of impact. The investigation indicates Joe Boever was a foot from the ditch.
The select committee is investigating Ravnsborg’s conduct following the fatal crash. He pleaded no-contest to two misdemeanors.
The committee spent most of the hearing poring over differences between two reports that place the point of impact at different spots. The testimony and line of questions were at times gruesome. The committee also questioned Department of Public Safety officials about blood, car paint and vehicle pieces found at the scene.
House Speaker Spencer Gosch said the committee is being thorough in its investigation. He said there’s no plan yet for when crash investigation materials will get released to the public.
“Not at this moment,” Gosch said. “There’s more conversations that need to happen. We will continue to collect data as the investigation goes on.”
The committee will meet again to hear from more officials who are subpoenaed.