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Press Release

Member of Tulalip Tribes sentenced to intermittent custody for drunk driving crash at gravel pit that killed passenger

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington
Defendant impaired by drugs and alcohol

Seattle – A 40-year-old Snohomish County man who is an enrolled member of the Tulalip Tribes was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to three years of probation, with intermittent confinement (3 days a week) for the first year of probation for involuntary manslaughter in connection with the February 2, 2020, crash that killed the sole passenger in his truck, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Danny Lee Simpson, Jr. pleaded guilty in October 2023. Prosecutors sought an 18-month custodial sentence, while the United States Probation Office recommended a 28-month custodial sentence.

According to records in the case, Simpson, his wife, and a mutual acquaintance had been drinking at a bar in Stanwood, Washington on February 1, 2020. After midnight, Simpson drove his truck, with the acquaintance as his sole passenger, to a gravel pit owned by his parents. Simpson had recently modified his truck, so it was suitable for off road use. Simpson had failed to check the braking system on the truck.

The sand and gravel pit was poorly lit and had a sheer 40-foot cliff face. Simpson knew about the cliff. The truck overheated and stalled. At about 1:15 in the morning, Simpson backed the truck off the sheer cliff. The truck landed upside down at the bottom of the cliff. The crash killed Simpson’s passenger – another member of the Tulalip Tribes. In his plea agreement, Simpson admitted he knew or could have reasonably foreseen that it was dangerous to drive under the influence of alcohol near the cliff face in a dark, wet, and poorly lit gravel pit.

Writing to the court, prosecutors highlighted the devastating impact on the victim’s family. “Simpson ended the life of a man who will never be able to play catch with his son, go to activities at his son’s school, or watch his son grow into manhood. Simpson selfishly took all this away from the victim, his son, and their family.”

The victim’s mother spoke at length at the sentencing hearing about the devastating loss that she, her family and the community have suffered because of Simpson’s actions. The victim’s father submitted a victim impact statement saying in part, “As his father, the pain I now endure is constant and paralyzing. My heart hurts, not only for myself, but for my grandson who will never know how much his father loved him.”

Simpson was ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined to the victim’s family.

The case was investigated by the FBI and the Tulalip Police Department.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys J. Tate London and Jocelyn Cooney. Mr. London and Ms. Cooney serve as Tribal Liaisons 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 March 13, 2024

Indian Country Law and Justice