A man involved in a Pine Ridge crash that killed a family of three earlier this month has been charged in tribal court with drunken driving, according to law enforcement.

Tyler Makes Him First, 28, of Porcupine has been charged in Oglala Sioux Tribal Court with driving under the influence, said tribal Highway Safety Trooper Kevin Rascher.

The crash occurred around 7:15 p.m. Nov. 4 along Bureau of Indian Affairs Highway 27, when Makes Him First’s pickup crossed into oncoming traffic and collided with the family’s car, said Rascher, a traffic accident investigator with the tribe’s Department of Public Safety. The site, he said, was about a mile north of the Evergreen Housing complex in Porcupine.

The car’s three occupants died: the driver, Waylon Red Elk Sr., 42; his wife, Jaylene Pretends Eagle, 34; and their son, Waylon Red Elk Jr., 1. Pretends Eagle had been seven months pregnant. They were residents of Wanblee.

Makes Him First suffered injuries to the collarbone and chest area and was treated at the Indian Health Service hospital on Pine Ridge, Rascher said. The result of a preliminary breath test, conducted to determine Makes Him First’s blood alcohol level at that time, was not immediately available.

Autopsies have been performed on the victims, and the findings will be submitted to federal law enforcement, said Oglala Sioux Tribe police chief Mark Mesteth.

As of Tuesday afternoon, federal court records did not show any charges against Makes Him First, and he was not detained in tribal jail.

The matter remains under federal investigation and is being monitored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said Randy Seiler, U.S. Attorney for the District of South Dakota.

In these types of incidents, federal prosecutors first evaluate investigation reports such as accident reconstruction, autopsy results and FBI witness interviews, before making a charging decision.

Contact Tiffany Tan at tiffany.tan@rapidcityjournal.com.

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