A Porcupine man has been charged with involuntary manslaughter half a year after authorities said he was involved in a crash that killed a family of three on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
On Monday, the FBI filed a criminal complaint against Tyler Makes Him First, charging the 28-year-old with involuntary manslaughter in the death of 42-year-old Waylon Red Elk Sr. The bureau requested a warrant for his arrest.
Makes Him First’s pickup allegedly collided head-on with a car being driven by Red Elk Sr. near Porcupine in the evening of Nov. 4. The court document states Makes Him First killed the Wanblee man “without malice” while operating “a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.”
The wreck happened along Bureau of Indian Affairs Highway 27, about a mile north of the Evergreen Housing complex in Porcupine. Red Elk Sr.’s two passengers were also killed: his wife, Jaylene Pretends Eagle, 34, and their son, Waylon Red Elk Jr., 1. Pretends Eagle had been seven months pregnant.
A sworn statement that accompanied the complaint, prepared by FBI Special Agent Robert Bennett, states previously undisclosed details about the incident:
An accident reconstruction conducted by Trooper Kevin Rascher, of the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Public Safety, found that Makes Him First had been heading north on BIA 27 while Red Elk Sr. had been traveling south.
“Trooper Rascher concluded that Tyler Makes Him First crossed the centerline,” the statement reads. “The point of impact occurred in the Southbound lane, with the impact being passenger headlight to passenger headlight.”
Rascher found also normal conditions with Makes Him First’s tire tread and the road surface, including the absence of snow or standing water.
A crash witness told the trooper he had been traveling in front of Makes Him First when he looked in his rearview mirror and saw the headlights of the vehicle behind him disappear.
Law enforcement officers who responded to the crash “observed beer cans and beer bottles around the location” of Makes Him First’s pickup.
A breathalyzer test on Makes Him First registered a blood alcohol content of 0.129 percent; a later blood test showed a BAC of 0.284. (The threshold for drunken driving is 0.08 percent.)
In a conversation Rascher had with Makes Him First two days after the accident, Makes Him First said “he was driving when he either lost traction or was passing a vehicle prior to the collision.”
The same day, Makes Him First called the trooper to say doctors and medics had told him not to make assumptions or statements “because he possibly had a concussion.”
Rascher told the Journal in an interview about a week after the crash that Makes Him First was treated at the Pine Ridge hospital for injuries to the collarbone and chest area.
He said also that Makes Him First had been charged in tribal court with driving under the influence. The status or outcome of the case could not immediately be obtained.