South Dakota’s top prosecutor Jason Ravnsborg is facing three misdemeanor charges for his role in a car crash that killed a pedestrian.
The story: The charges against Ravnsborg were announced during a press briefing on Thursday by Emily Sovell, the Sully County state’s attorney and Hyde County deputy state’s attorney in South Dakota. They said he will be charged for operating a vehicle while using a mobile or electronic device, a lane driving violation for driving outside of his lane, and careless driving, The Grand Forks Herald reported.
The misdemeanor charges each carry a maximum penalty of $500 fines and 30 days in jail.
Sovell explained that the state could not bring manslaughter or vehicular homicide charges against Ravnsborg because there was no evidence to support such charges.
“For vehicular homicide in South Dakota, it requires that one be under the influence of alcohol, drugs or substances in a manner and a degree prohibited by law, without design to affect death, but that ultimately after negligent actions, results in the death of another human being,” Sovell said. “That’s simply not applicable in this case.”
“Recklessness is an extremely high burden for us to establish and in this case we don’t have it,” said Beadle County State’s Attorney Michael Moore. “I don’t feel good about it but it’s the right decision.”
The accident: Ravnsborg was driving along a highway on Sept. 12 and was on his way home after attending a GOP fundraiser. His vehicle fatally struck Joe Boever, 55.
But, Ravnsborg did not notice that he injured a person. He believed that he hit a deer, called 911 around 10:24 p.m, and reported the incident. The Hyde County Sheriff arrived at the scene and Ravnsborg borrowed his car to go home after his vehicle was towed.
The next morning, Ravnsborg returned to the scene of the crash, along with his chief of staff, on his way to return the sheriff’s car. They then discovered Boever’s body.
It is still unclear what caused Ravnsborg to drive outside of his lane. The prosecutors revealed that he was on his phone before the crash but was not distracted when the accident occurred, contrary to what an earlier investigation found.
“We know that because his phones were analyzed,” Moore said. “His phones were locked approximately 1 minute and 15 seconds prior to the impact.”
Ravnsborg also drove two miles over the speed limit at impact time.
Ravnsborg released a statement, saying it has been a “difficult and trying time for everyone involved,” according to ABC News.
“I appreciate, more than ever, that the presumption of innocence placed within our legal system continues to work,” he said. “I have always practiced this in my professional life and I understand it even better now as I see that we live in a society where every person enjoys the protection of the law.
“I have and will continue to pray for Joe Boever and his family. I cannot imagine their pain and loss and I do send my deepest condolences to them,” he added.
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Author: Penka Arsova
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