We have noted previously Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek’s seemingly shocking lack of curiosity at the scene of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s car crash on the night of September 12, 2020, the crash in which distracted driver Ravnsborg killed Joseph Boever. After sending Ravnsborg back to Pierre with the Sheriff’s personal vehicle, and while waiting for the tow truck from Black Hills Towing to arrive from Pierre, Sheriff Volek saw a glowing light in the ditch, but instead of investigating closely, assumed it was a light from Ravnsborg’s car.
Quick check: how many of us have lights on our cars that remain illuminated when they detach from our cars? I have enough trouble with lights that don’t stay illuminated while attached to my car. If I’m standing at the scene of a car crash, and if, more than half an hour after the wreck, I see something glowing in the ditch, I’m not going to think, Oh, one of the car’s lights came off, and it’s still lit. I’m going to think, What the heck is that light? Did something from the car set some grass on fire? Is that a phone or something? I’d better go look!
Ravnsborg’s chief of staff, Tim Bormann, who followed Ravnsborg back to the scene of the crime the next morning to give Ravnsborg a ride back to Pierre after he returned Volek’s car, was with Ravnsborg on Highway 14 when Ravnsborg called him over and pointed to the body that he said he’s just discovered in the grass at the edge of the road, the body of Joe Boever. Bormann was thus the second person known to have seen the body. In his interview with North Dakota law enforcement the next day, Monday, September 14, at 3:20 p.m. in Pierre, Bormann did not mention seeing Boever’s flashlight, the flashlight Boever was carrying, illuminated in his hand, at the time Ravnsborg killed him, the flashlight Sheriff Volek hadn’t investigated the night before, the flashlight that investigators have said was lying near his body, still lit, when they arrived on the scene on Sunday. But Bormann did say he shared our sense that Sheriff Volek did not show sufficient professional interest in investigating the crime scene:
A personal observation from my point, I sort of, wondered at how Sheriff Volek handled things on Saturday night. Um, as a former neighbor in Faulk County, knowing my sheriff at that time, we knew Mike. He’s been sheriff in Hyde County for a long time. He gets reelected because, the joke is, he won’t apply more law than Hyde County will take. But, I sort of wondered if everything about when, when Jason’s like, well he lent me his vehicle, sent me home, I was like, o.k., did, you know, I understand dark night, might be a car-deer, you don’t know, but, you look for something, and I think it just drove it home more to me on Sunday morning, when it’s like, we’re the last people who should have found the body [Tim Bormann, interview with North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation Special Agents Joe Arenz and Arnie Rummel, 2020.09.14, transcribed from video, timestamp 23:20].
But Sheriff Volek’s wasn’t wholly lacking in curiosity that night. In his report, before noting the largely uninteresting and easily dismissed light glowing in the ditch 50 yards behind Ravnsborg’s car, Sheriff Volek writes more about the unlit Ford F150 in the ditch ahead of Ravnsborg’s car:
Volek included 24 pictures of the Ford F150 in his report, several apparently taken that night while he waited for the tow truck:
Sheriff Volek recorded more detail in his report about the white Ford F150 than he did about the flashlight. Volek wrote more about the truck than he did about the actual dead body discovered the next morning:
Maybe Volek took pictures of the body as well, and maybe those photos were redacted from the publicly released investigation file. But the report as presented online shows no indication of redaction.
Sheriff Volek showed more curiosity about a vehicle abandoned in the ditch well ahead of the site of the crash than he showed in an unusual light at the edge of the road amidst the trail of crash debris, a light which he dismissed with an illogical explanation. Sheriff Volek wasn’t incapable of applying his curiosity to the scene of a car crash. But that night, he lived up to Bormann’s assessment, making sure he didn’t apply more curiosity than the Attorney General would take.