By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The U.S. Army Reserve is blocking a promotion for South Dakota’s attorney general until charges stemming from a fatal hit-and-run he was involved in last fall are cleared.
South Dakota AG Jason Ravnsborg announced last month that he would be promoted to colonel in the Army Reserve, which he has served in for 24 years.
“It is quite an honor and I have been proud to serve our great nation for over 24 years!” Ravnsborg wrote on social media at the time. “Through 3 deployments, Battalion Command and 4 company commands serving with so many other great Americans! HOOAH!”
However, the Army Reserve has flagged his promotion and won’t submit it to the U.S. Senate for confirmation until the charges against Ravnsborg are resolved, according to the Associated Press.
Ravnsborg, who was elected South Dakota’s attorney general AG in 2018, was involved in a hit-and-run collision in September that resulted in the death of Joseph Boever.
Authorities said Boever was walking along the shoulder of U.S. Highway 14 west of Highmore, South Dakota, when Ravnsborg’s vehicle veered onto the shoulder and struck Boever. It was confirmed Ravnsborg was distracted when his car hit Boever.
Ravnsborg has been charged with three misdemeanor offenses related to the collision: operating a vehicle while using a mobile electronic device, illegal lane change and careless driving. Each carries a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and fines of $500 each.
He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.
In a 911 call made by Ravnsborg the night of the incident, the dispatcher asked him if he might have struck a deer and he responded that he did not know, later adding that it could have been a deer and that it was in the roadway.
The Hyde County Sheriff arrived on scene to assess the damage to the AG’s vehicle and look for the deer.
Neither the sheriff nor Ravnsborg saw Boever’s body in the ditch, even though Ravnsborg used his cell phone flashlight to search the area.
Ravnsborg borrowed the sheriff’s personal vehicle to drive back to Pierre, South Dakota, that night.
He returned to the scene of the crash the following morning on his way to return the sheriff’s vehicle. He and an employee stopped to look for the animal again, but instead found Boever’s body nearby.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem called on Ravnsborg to resign, but he refused. Impeachment proceedings began in late February, but have been put on hold.