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Press Release

Makah tribal member indicted for drunken crash on beach that killed friend

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant charged with involuntary manslaughter

Seattle – A 21-year-old member of the Makah Tribe was indicted February 21, 2024, for involuntary manslaughter for the death of a friend in a car accident on a Pacific Ocean beach within the Makah Reservation, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Meric Soeneke is scheduled for arraignment in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on March 4, 2024.

According to records filed in the case, on December 21, 2023, Soeneke was driving at a high rate of speed on the ocean beach with three others in the vehicle. Soeneke had been drinking and was impaired. He was driving on the unlit beach in the dark when he hit a large tree that had fallen across the beach. Another Makah Tribal member, a 26-year-old woman, was killed in the crash.

Soeneke was originally charged in Tribal Court and released on bail. At his first federal court appearance a Magistrate Judge will determine whether there are conditions under which he can be released from federal custody.

Involuntary manslaughter is punishable by up to eight years in prison.

The charges contained in the indictment are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is being investigated by the FBI and the Neah Bay Public Safety Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jocelyn Cooney. Ms. Cooney serves as a Tribal Liaison for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington.


Press contact for the U.S. Attorney’s Office is Communications Director Emily Langlie at (206) 553-4110 or

Updated February 22, 2024

Indian Country Law and Justice