South Dakota AG May Have Been Scrolling Through Radical Right Conspiracy Site During Hit-And-Run

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s Ford Taurus at the scene of the impact the following morning
South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg’s Ford Taurus at the scene of the impact the following morning
Image: South Dakota Highway Patrol

Distracted driving kills, and you’d think a state attorney general would know that. But it seems that South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg may have been staring at his phone and reading conspiracy theories as he drove down the road and hit and killed a motorist standing outside of his disabled vehicle.

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Ravnsborg was charged last week with three misdemeanors: careless driving, using a mobile electronic device and failing to stay in his lane. Each charge carries a maximum jail sentence of 30 days and up to a $500 fines.

Ravnsborg struck 55-year-old Joe Boever on Sept. 12, though at the time Ravnsborg told authorities he thought he had hit a deer. He said he didn’t realize the enormity of the crash until he returned to the scene the next day and found Boever’s body. That explanation sounds a little fishy, as Boever’s broken eyeglasses were found inside Ravnsborg’s car. That indicates a pretty drastic crash.

Even if Ravnsborg is being 100 percent honest about thinking he hit a deer, another person has died as a result of a possible case of screen addiction. Moments before Boever’s death, it appears the South Dakota AG was reading some pretty out-there stuff mixed in with straight news. From the Daily Beast:

The newly released videos also show investigators going through the top attorney’s phone records and revealing that Ravnsborg was scanning through websites while driving at night, settling on one article in particular just before he hit Boever.

“At 10:20:49, you were on the Dakota Free Press site,” one investigator told the attorney general, in a clip first flagged by Media Matters research fellow Timothy Johnson. “These are all on your work phone. A minute later, you were on the RealClearPolitics website.”

“And then, about a minute later, this article was pulled up through the Just The News,” the interrogator continued, referencing the site founded by pro-Trump columnist John Solomon.

The investigator, meanwhile, went on to note that the article in question was “about Joe Biden and something to do with China” and that Ravnsborg was on that link up to a minute before the accident, further asking the attorney general if he remembered reading this while driving.

Ravnsborg contended that he remembered “looking at those” but that he then “set his phone down,” prompting the investigator to point out that this activity on his phone occurred only a minute or so before he called 911 to report the accident.

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“It’s about some conspiracy with Joe Biden in China,” one investigator noted.

“I guess I would say I glance at headlines a lot. I don’t read articles while I’m driving,” Ravnsborg replied, adding, “I’ve never heard of Just the News.”

In the interview tapes, Ravnsborg says he’s certain he put his phone down before the crash, but the timeline doesn’t quite add up for investigators. Daily Beast again:

Ravnsborg contended that he remembered “looking at those” but that he then “set his phone down,” prompting the investigator to point out that this activity on his phone occurred only a minute or so before he called 911 to report the accident.

“So the concern being is that before the time of impact, there was a time period that went by before you called 911,” the investigator pushed back. “You had to realize what was going on, come to a stop, get your bearings back about you, get out and look at the damage a little bit, figure out what the hell is going on, figure out where you are, call 911.”

“So it’s reasonable to say that a minute or two minutes passed from impact to when you were on the phone with 911, right? That would be reasonable,” the interrogator concluded.

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Just reading headlines is a dangerous practice, especially on a heavily right-wing pro-Trump site started by a reporter who was tired of his shaky stories being categorized as opinion at more reputable publications.

While Just The News and sites like it are dangerous for our democracy, using a phone while driving is dangerous to the lives of everyone on the road. No matter what it is, be it a text for a loved one or a description of Hilary Clinton’s lizard ancestry, put your phone down while driving, especially if your entire job is to protect the public.

DISCUSSION

By
Kroozah

Of course he was reading that garbage while driving. I’m surprised his defense isn’t that the deer must have shape-shifted into a man after he hit it, clearly a result of microchipped bioengineering by Bill Gates that Bill sent to run out in front of the car to paint him as a murderer. Hillary and Obama are behind this somehow and it was funded by George Soros