South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg released a statement to media late Monday with his account of the Saturday night car accident in which he apparently struck and killed a man.
In the statement, Ravnsborg said that after he crashed he called 911 to report an animal strike. Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek responded.
Ravnsborg said he searched a ditch with his cell phone flashlight, with help from Volek, for what Ravnsborg believed was the body of a large animal — a deer perhaps — and found nothing.
What the two South Dakota state officials both missed was the body of Joseph Boever, a 55-year-old Highmore, SD man who Ravnsborg apparently struck, the state Public Safety Department confirmed to NBC News on Monday.
Earlier on that Saturday, Boever had crashed his truck into a hay bale on Highway 14, family said.
Boever's cousin, Victor Nemec, told NBC News on Monday that he drove Boever home after his car hit the hay bale and last saw him alive around 9:30 p.m. on the night of the accident.
For an unknown reason, his family said, he returned to his truck later that night.
"I don't know what the truth is, but I have my doubts whether an official 911 call was made after the accident," Nemec said.
The following morning, Ravnsborg said in his statement, he was driving with chief of staff Tim Bormann to return Volek's personal car when the two passed by the crash site and saw Boever's body.
"My chief of staff and I checked and it was apparent that Mr. Boever was deceased," Ravnsborg said in the statement. "I immediately drove to Sheriff Volek's home to report the discovery and he accompanied me back to the scene. Once there, the sheriff instructed me that he would handle the investigation, and asked me to return to Pierre."
Mike Deaver, a spokesperson for the attorney general, did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment Tuesday morning. Bormann, Ravnsborg's chief of staff, did not respond to an NBC News request for comment on his account of the circumstances around finding the body Sunday morning.
The Hyde County Sheriff's Office did not immediately respond to an NBC News request for comment and the person who answered the phone Tuesday morning at the home of Hyde County Sheriff Mike Volek hung up.
Tony Mangan, a spokesperson with the South Dakota Department of Public Safety, said the attorney general's statement is "part of the on-going investigation."