ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Tonya Mae Dale, 29, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, was sentenced in federal court on Oct. 25 to five years in prison for involuntary manslaughter in Indian Country. Dale pleaded guilty on March 24.
According to the plea agreement and other court records, Dale committed the offense in San Juan County on or about June 26, 2019, and continuing to June 28, 2019. Dale admitted to driving at night while intoxicated with her children in the vehicle, and her intoxication contributed to her vehicle becoming stuck on June 26. The next day, Dale decided to leave her vehicle and began walking. At some point, she decided to leave her children, a baby and a young child, and seek help on her own. When she returned with assistance to the location she had left her children, only the baby was still there. The other child had wandered away. Despite a multiagency search of the area for the young boy, he was found deceased the following day.
Upon her release from prison, Dale will be subject to two years of supervised release.
The FBI investigated this case with assistance from the Navajo Nation Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Marshall prosecuted the case.