Driver gets 16-year prison term for crash that killed family


RAPID CITY (AP) – A Porcupine corrections officer has been sentenced to 16 years in prison after being convicted in a drunken-driving crash that killed a family on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Tyler Makes Him First earlier pleaded guilty to three involuntary manslaughter charges in the 2017 crash that killed 42-year-old Waylon Red Elk Sr., his pregnant 34-year-old wife Jaylene Pretends Eagle; and their 1-year-old son Waylon Red Elk Jr. The prosecution in return dropped a charge involving the unborn child, who was nearly due at 7 1/2 months' gestation, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Make Him First's sentence exceeded sentencing guidelines because he was a corrections officer who swore to follow and protect the law, Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Patterson said. He was driving with three and a half times the legal limit of alcohol in his system and caused a "catastrophic" crash that took the lives of four innocent people, Patterson said.

"Sixteen years, but what is that? He'll be back. He'll be breathing. But I'll never have my daughter back or the grandbabies," said Phyllis Wilcox, Pretends Eagle's mother, after the sentencing.

Jeffrey Viken, a judge at the Rapid City federal courthouse, also ordered him to pay $9,300 in restitution.

Make Him First was initially scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 4 but the hearing was postponed and he was sent to jail after testing positive for marijuana. The defendant had a blood alcohol content of 0.28, surpassing the legal limit when his pickup crossed the center line and struck the family's car.