Among the documents in the Jason Ravnsborg investigation file is Exhibit 58, South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper John Berndt’s report on the fatal crash in which South Dakota’s Attorney General killed Joseph Boever on September 12, 2020. The 43-page report (following the lengthy transcripts of North Dakota cops’ two interviews with Ravnsborg in this document) contains the following key details pointing to Ravnsborg’s culpability in Boever’s death:
- Berndt notes that when the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation interviewed Ravnsborg one day after the crash, Ravnsborg “made several comments questioning why a person would be walking on the shoulder at night” [p. 29].
- Two witnesses told ND BCI that they saw Boever walking on the north shoulder, along the grass, prior to the crash [p. 30].
- Ravnsborg told ND BCI that “I believe I was on the road the whole time” [p. 32].
- Ravnsborg told ND BCI, “I know I was on the road” [p. 32].
- Berndt notes that two days after the crash, Ravnsborg told ND BCI that pieces of his car were on the shoulder right after the crash and were still there the next morning. Ravnsborg told ND BCI that he did not move any of the pieces [p. 29].
- According to trend lines derived from the location of red paint chips from Ravnsborg’s car, vehicle parts, and reddish-brown substance, Ravnsborg’s car struck pedestrian Boever 1.03 feet from the grass ditch on the north shoulder [p. 29].
- The north shoulder of Highway 14 just west of Highmore is 10.76 feet wide [p. 29].
- Ravnsborg’s 2011 Ford Taurus has a tire track width of 5 feet 5 inches [p. 30].
- At the point of impact, Ravnsborg’s right and left tires would have been on the shoulder, north of the fog line, north of the rumble strip [p. 30].
- Ravnsborg told ND BCI on September 30, 2020, that he generally sets his cruise control between 65 and 67 mph and never travels more than 4 mph over anymore [p. 32].
- The time between Ravnsborg’s departure from the Roosters Bar and Grill in Redfield and his 911 call from the highway west of Highmore was approximately 63 minutes [p. 33].
- The distance from Roosters in Redfield to the crime scene is 71.7 miles [p. 33].
- Ravnsborg’s average speed from Redfield to Highmore was 68 mph [p. 33].
- An exemplar trip conducted by South Dakota Highway Patrol following all posted speed limits along Ravnsborg’s route had an average speed of 62 mph [p. 34].
- Ravnsborg’s speedometer varied 2 to 5 mph above the actual speed. Looking at his speedometer, Ravnsborg thus would have believed his average speed was 70 to 73 mph [p. 34].
- Based on cell phone data, Berndt calculates that while Ravnsborg was accessing an anti-Biden conspiracy-theory video, he was traveling 73.4 mph, which his speedometer would have registered as 75 to 78 mph [p. 36].
- Cell phone data indicates Ravnsborg was traveling 68 mph at the moment he hit Boever [p. 37].
- Ravnsborg used his work cellphone for 69% of his drive from Redfield to Highmore [p. 38].
Trooper Berndt summarizes his findings thus:
As Mr. Ravnsborg approaches Highmore he is traveling 7-8MPH over the posted 65MPH speed zone but his speedometer indicates he is traveling 9-13MPH over the posted speed limit, while using his work cellphone for various tasks. As Mr. Ravnsborg enters Highmore his work cellphone locks and does not turn back on until the 911 call. Based on the work cell phone information, Mr. Ravnsborg slows to approximately 47MPH as he travels across SD Hwy 47 and begins to accelerate a short distance before the 65MPH sign. For an unknown reason, Mr. Ravnsborg’s vehicle exits the westbound driving lane, crosses the rumble strip with the right and left-side tires then begins traveling on the north shoulder of the roadway. Mr. Ravnsborg states his headlights are on low beam at the time of the crash. Mr. Ravnsborg’s work cellphone indicates he is traveling 68MPH at the time of impact. Mr. Boever is walking east on the north shoulder, approximately 1 foot from the grass ditch. Mr. Boever is carrying a flashlight that is illuminated. Mr. Ravnsborg impacts Mr. Boever on the right front corner of his 2011 Ford Taurus. Mr. Boever’s head impacts the windshield and creates a hole. As Mr. Boever’s head impacts the windshield his glasses are broken and fall into Mr. Ravnsborg’s vehicle. During the impact, Mr. Boever’s right leg is severed below the knee. Mr. Ravnsborg states he does not see Mr. Boever at any time prior to or during the crash.
All debris from the crash was located on the north shoulder, with exception to one bolt from underneath Mr. Ravnsborg’s vehicle, that bolt was approximately 2 inches from the fog line in the westbound driving lane. The calculated trend lines place the area of impact on the shoulder, approximately 1 foot from the ditch. Witnesses who saw Mr. Boever moments prior to the crash saw him walking on the north shoulder along the ditch. With this information, the location of the crash is proven to be on the north shoulder of the roadway. Mr. Ravnsborg used his work phone for at least 69% of his trip. Mr. Ravnsborg’s work phone indicates he recently used it moments prior to the crash. At the time of this report it is unknown what distraction took Mr. Ravnsborg’s attention from driving but something distracted Mr. Ravnsborg enough to cross the rumble strips twice (right and left side tires). After driving on the shoulder for an unknown distance Mr. Ravnsborg admits to never seeing Mr. Boever on the shoulder. While traveling 65MPH, Mr. Ravnsborg would have seen Mr. Boever for at least 0.58 to 1.31 seconds if his headlights were on low beam and Mr. Ravnsborg was undistracted. Mr. Ravnsborg would have seen Mr. Boever for even longer if his headlights were on high beam. After the crash Mr. Ravnsborg’s uses less than half of the normal braking his vehicle has available and stops 614 feet past the area of impact. Mr. Ravnsborg contacts 911 and informed them he hit something but is unsure of what it was.
If Mr. Ravnsborg is undistracted and using his high-beam headlights he is unable to brake to avoid this crash, however he may be able to avoid Mr. Boever by swerving. If Mr. Ravnsborg has his low-beams on, as he stated he did, he is unable to avoid the fatal crash by either braking or swerving.
After the crash Mr. Ravnsborg walks east on the north shoulder using the flashlight on his work phone. Mr. Boever’s mostly naked body is approximately 2 feet from the shoulder. Mr. Boever’s skin color is pale white. Mr. Boever’s flashlight is illuminated along the north shoulder. Mr. Ravnsborg states he does not see the body or flashlight as he walks past.
Sheriff Volek arrives at the crash scene. Sheriff Volek lends Mr. Ravnsborg a vehicle. After Mr. Ravnsborg leaves, Sheriff Volek walks through the crash scene and sees a glowing light. Sheriff Volek believes the light is from the car, even though it is no longer attached. Sheriff Volek states he is within 5 feet of the light. Sheriff Volek states he does not see Mr. Boever’s body but agrees he had to walk directly past it.
Mr. Ravnsborg’s vehicle has no mechanical defects. There were no roadway or environmental concerns.
Other motorists were able to see Mr. Boever on the night of the crash. Other motorists were able to see Agent Rummel as we conducted exemplar testing.
If Mr. Ravnsborg is not driving on the north shoulder of the road it makes no difference if Mr. Ravnsborg sees Mr. Boever or not, this crash does not occur [Berndt, pp. 42–43, released by LRC 2022.03.30].
Trooper Berndt’s findings show that Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg behaved irresponsibly as he drove home on September 12, 2020. He broke the law, he killed a man, and, as Representative Ryan Cwach noted, he misled the public about his actions. Ravnsborg cannot be trusted as Attorney General and should be impeached.