Seattle – A 40-year-old Snohomish County man who is an enrolled member of the Tulalip Tribes pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to involuntary manslaughter in connection with the February 2, 2020, crash that killed the sole passenger in his truck, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Danny Lee Simpson, Jr. will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Tana Lin on January 24, 2024, at 10:00 a.m.
According to the plea agreement, 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. Simpson admits 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.
Prosecutors have agreed to recommend no more than 18 months in prison. Judge Lin is not bound by the recommendation and can impose any sentence up to the maximum of eight years in prison.
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 Emily.Langlie@usdoj.gov.