Never drive in either of the Dakotas

It’s too dangerous. There are wild legislators driving madly with little regard for traffic laws on those long empty highways. Several years ago there was a politician whose name I forget who made the papers with his frequent reckless drives…now they’ve got Jason Ravnsborg on the prowl.

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg said in a statement late Monday that he realized he had struck and killed a man walking along a rural stretch of highway only after returning to the scene the next day and discovering the body.

The state’s top law enforcement officer said he initially thought he hit a deer while driving home from a Republican fundraiser on Saturday night. He is under investigation by the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

How do you do that? How do you mistake a person for a deer? I’ve encountered many deer while driving — I never hit any, fortunately — and they tend to bound out of ditches and cover and race with startling speed across the road, something people don’t generally do (I haven’t hit any of them, either). There’s hooves and antlers and long skinny legs on one of them, too. I know the state of zoological knowledge in the general public is woeful, but big slow ape vs. swift herbivore?

Ravnsborg has a history of speeding and other traffic violations, which seems to be a matter of course over there across Minnesota’s western border. It makes me reluctant to drive there — you never know when the governor or the whole dang state senate might show up, Mad Max style, and take you out.


  1. billseymour says

    Fortunately, I’ve never had to cross either of the Dakotas by car.

    But I have passed through North Dakota several times on Amtrak’s Empire Builder. On none of my trips did we ever hit a car trying to beat the train at a crossing, so there’s that I guess.

  2. moarscienceplz says

    “How do you do that?”
    The fact that he got 8 to 12 hours to sleep off any intoxicants in his system couldn’t have had anything to do with this chain of events, could it?

  3. robro says

    “How do you do that?” I’m voting for #2’s suggestion: Ravnsborg was drunk. If he thought it was a deer, why did he go back? For the venison? He knew he hit a human, but went home to sober up first and to think up his cover story. It’s horrifying to imagine but perhaps he left his victim still alive on the side of the road, but rather than calling for help he opted to cover his ass.

  4. says

    How do you mistake a person for a deer?

    It’s easy if you’re blind drunk. That also fits with taking a day before reporting it, as moarscienceplz notes.

  5. lochaber says

    Also voting for drunk driving.

    I’m betting he didn’t even realize he hit anything, until he woke up and noticed the dent, and then assumed it was a deer.

  6. PaulBC says

    Well, the saying goes that the criminal returns to the scene of the crime. In general, I don’t think that’s true. This guy must have had some reason for going back though. I doubt if he was actually entirely certain that he had hit a deer that he would have bothered.

    To assume he was drunk is being generous. Maybe it was a fully conscious hit and run that on further consideration he thought he would not be able to get away with and decided he needed to deal with the fallout somehow.

  7. Sean Boyd says

    Sadly, this is one of the more mundane ways in which a Republican politician has taken a life this year.

  8. says

    There’s a statement from Ravnsborg:
    Besides the fairly obvious, that Ravnsborg was almost certainly drinking that night, the thing that sticks out to me is that the sheriff who responded to the 911 call lent Ravnsborg his car so he could drive home, according to Ravnsborg’s statement. He had already been driving an hour before he struck the victim, and then was allowed to drive another hour home. That stinks of the sheriff covering for him.
    Ravnsborg also called his chief of staff during the drive home (between 11pm and midnight) so they could arrange to return the sheriff’s car to him in the morning. On that return drive the two of them pulled over at the site of the accident and discovered the body, supposedly. It all sounds very suspicious.

  9. dorght says

    Who knows better how to generate reasonable doubt in a jury than an attorney general. All kinds of weird behavior in his and the sheriff’s account, lack of statements from investigators, and excessive use of the word “accident” as if that excuses all.
    My working hypothesis is that he wasn’t watching the road or had drunk enough (after the party even?) so never saw the man/deer. Stopped, got out assuming it was a deer and looked for some free venison. Found a man instead. Called the 911. Colluded with the sheriff to move the accident debris off the shoulder, remove open containers and cover his state for hours. Now will be in constant fear of evidence the highway patrol finds that compromises the sheriff and motivates the sheriff to spill.

  10. Snidely W says

    Drunk and/or texting.
    He has surrendered his phones for examination but that won’t matter because the exact time of the ‘accident’ is indeterminable by independent means.
    The AG says that the sheriff “surveyed the damage at the scene and to my vehicle”, his statement does not include anything about the sheriff searching for the animal when he was called to the scene.
    The AG’s car was so damaged by the collision that it had to be towed. If a car is THAT damaged, there will be either fur or clothing (and blood) transferred to the vehicle. How good the sheriff look at the vehicle?
    I’ve got questions for the sheriff.