Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

June 6, 2023

Choking with grief, Myron Dewey's family described their loss, as court hands down minimal sentence

Choking with grief, Myron Dewey's family described their loss, as the court handed down a minimal sentence for the driver of the truck who killed Myron

By Brenda Norrell
Censored News
June 6, 2023

PAHRUMP, Nevada -- Choking with grief and shaken from trauma, Myron Dewey's family described the horrific loss and life-threatening depression that now follows the death of the one they loved so deeply. Myron's daughter, sons, and wife described their unbearable grief, and his sister described the agony of watching Myron die, crushed inside his car.

After describing the agonizing loss of the one they loved so deeply, the driver of the truck that killed Myron in a head-on collision, John Walsh, a mining engineer who lives in Reno, received a minimal sentence. 

John Walsh, on right, seated with his attorney in court today.

Despite the unimaginable sorrow expressed in court this afternoon, Tonopah Judge Jennifer Klapper only sentenced Walsh to 250 hours of community service and remanded him to the county jail to serve one month in jail -- instead of the maximum of six months, which was the sentence that the family asked for. 

Walsh's two charges were recently reduced to just a misdemeanor of vehicle manslaughter. The Nye County prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Patrick Ferguson, told the court today there was misinformation earlier, and that Walsh did not have any alcohol in his blood, or enough THC (extracted from marijuana) in his blood to charge him with DUI.

Ferguson said Walsh's THC level was 1.9, just below the prohibited level of 2.0 level for a person to be charged in Nevada. However, before Ferguson took over prosecution of the case, Walsh was initially charged with both driving under the influence resulting in death, and reckless driving resulting in death.

Myron, 49, Walker River Paiute, killed on Sept. 26, 2021, was known internationally as a water protector, journalist and drone activist.

Myron's daughter Taylor Dewey, choking back incredible sorrow, was the first of Myron's family members to share what the loss had meant to her and her children. Taylor described how she heard of her dad's death while she was at Disney with her four young children. She shared the conversations she always wanted to have with her dad, and now, at the age of 26, she would never have.

"My dad was so young, he had so much left to give," Taylor told the court, and she spoke of her broken heart. Taylor said her dad's vehicle had held him together for the two hours he remained alive trapped inside, and once he was removed, the blood flowed into his lungs. His ribs were broken, and his feet, and his spine were broken.

Pressing for Walsh to be sentenced to the full six months in jail, Taylor said, "Six months is nothing compared to someone's life."

Myron's son Joseph Dewey said Myron's family is the victim of the justice system which is now limiting Walsh's sentence, due to the change to a lesser charge.

Joseph said that Walsh had taken the life of a man, and he would pray for him, for the consequences are great.

"It is a hard thing to live with."

Joseph also told the court if the tables were turned, and he had committed this crime, the results would be far different.

With unbearable sorrow, Myron's sister Rena Hooper described covering Myron with a blanket as he lay dying, crushed inside his vehicle, so her young children would not see him and have to live with the trauma. Myron told his sister, "It wasn't my fault."

The family home was less than a quarter mile from where the collision took place, on an isolated dirt road near Yomba. Myron was with his family that morning, a Sunday morning when the call came that someone needed help in California. He was on his way to help them get home.

The day before, Myron had live-streamed from the Navy's bombing range at Fallon, opposing its expansion, an expansion being pushed by the Nevada Congressional delegation, which later became law. And Myron spoke out against the lithium mine targeting the Paiute Massacre site at Thacker Pass, where a prayer camp is now resisting Lithium Americas of Canada which is digging into the place of unmarked burials of Paiutes massacred there, in northern Nevada.

With her words halting from grief, Myron's sister Rena told the court of the death of their mother, Cynthia Dewey, who died in January, from severe depression brought on by Myron's death.

It was Myron's accomplishments that led Rena to challenge herself and continue in school. They grew up together in Yomba.

"It is a hard thing to watch someone die right in front of you," Rena told the court.

Myron's son, Cedar George Parker, Tulalip and Tsleil Wautut, was traumatized and described wanting to take his own life. Cedar shared his six-month struggle with post-traumatic stress syndrome. As he struggled to go on living, he had a breakdown.

But he also remembered how Myron encouraged people all over the world, and named many of the countries where people found inspiration in his father's life and the teachings he shared.

And Cedar remembered Myron's words, as he considered taking his own life, "Don't let anyone take away your medicine."

"Like the Thunderbirds of old, we're going to rise from the sea," Cedar told the court, sharing how good it felt to see all of his family here together.

Still, the loss is unbearable. Now, he said, he must learn to live his life without his dad.

"Who is going to believe in me?" 

Myron's wife Deborah Parker described falling in love with Myron after he finished graduate school, and their times with their young son, hiking, fishing, camping beneath the stars, and sharing in Ceremonies.

"Myron loved sunsets and sunrises."

"He offered gratitude for being alive."

Deborah sang some of the sweet Paiute words that meant so much to Myron.

She described his kindness, and how he worked hard to build healthy communities and preserve healthy water for the future. Myron carried water and granola bars in his car, in case he came across anyone who was hungry or thirsty.

Sharing the names of many of the universities where Myron lectured, she said, "Myron was more of a legend than most of us ever knew."

For Deborah, the grief was so great, she ended up in the hospital.

At night, their young son wakes up screaming.

"I believe he is still in shock."

Deborah also questioned why haven't any police, prosecutors, or government representatives talked to her.

"We have had no voice in this until now."

"I just want Myron to come home."

On the phone with him as he was dying, crushed inside his car, she said, "All I could do was yell, 'Myron I love you."

"Keep breathing."

And when he stopped, she said, "A part of me died at that moment."

"I lost my partner, my best friend. I lost the greatest love of my life."

The sentencing of John Walsh

 Walsh pled guilty to one count of vehicular manslaughter, a misdemeanor. The judge sentenced Walsh to six months in jail, but five months of this was suspended, for as long as he has no motor vehicle violations. Walsh was also sentenced to do 250 hours of community service, attend DUI school and must complete a victim impact panel. Walsh was remanded into custody to serve one month in the Nye County jail.

Walsh is also required to pay a fine of $1,000 plus fees, and about $25,000 in restitution to the family, which may be covered by his insurance. The law also requires Walsh to forfeit his driver's license for one year.

Walsh was represented by Reno criminal defense attorney Thomas Viloria, who argued in court against jail time for Walsh.

"We don't believe jail will serve any purpose, except the loss of unemployment," Viloria told the court.

The prosecutor, Ferguson, said Walsh was following a vehicle that was kicking up dust and pulled into the other lane on the dirt road, hitting Myron head-on. However, at the time of the accident, Walsh told Nye County Sheriff's Department that a vehicle had passed going the opposite direction and kicked up dust, causing him to pull into Myron's lane.

Ferguson pressed for Walsh to be remanded into custody and sentenced to serve six months in jail so the family could feel relief from some sort of justice.

"It is not harmless," Ferguson said of Walsh pulling into the other lane. "He used bad judgment."

"He did something wrong and it cost someone his life."

During the sentencing hearing today, Walsh apologized to the family. "I am really sorry, I never meant to hurt anyone."

Walsh told the court that he went over to where Myron was trapped in the car and wanted to help.

"His last words to me were, 'It's alright, we're both alive, but I need help.'"

Myron Dewey: On the Frontlines
Myron's Dewey bold photography at Standing Rock captured the faces and images of sharpshooters and militarized police, as well as the security hired by Energy Transfer, owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline. While Myron was documenting them, they were tracking him from Standing Rock to Iowa, and long after the camps closed. The internal files of TigerSwan obtained by The Intercept reveal that TigerSwan documented Myron's movements and his use of drones for surveillance at Standing Rock, 2016 --2017. Mryon posted these photos on Nov. 3, 2016, at Standing Rock. -- Censored News

The Reduction in Charges for John Walsh

The Nye County District Attorney's Office released the amended charge for John Walsh, which was filed on April 10, 2023, to Censored News.

However, at that time, there was no indication from the prosecutor as to why the charges had been changed and reduced.

The Nye County prosecutor's office provided the amended charge but said it has no record of Walsh's plea agreement. Walsh's plea of guilty to vehicular manslaughter was made by his attorney in court.

The court session was available on Zoom and reported by Censored News. A sentencing date was set for June 6, 2023.

The amended criminal complaint, filed in Tonopah Justice Court, reveals that Walsh has again changed his story regarding the reason for the head-on collision. Initially, Walsh said dust from another vehicle, going the opposite direction, had blocked his view and he pulled into the other lane.

The amended complaint, however, says he pulled into the other lane to pass a vehicle.

The surprise reduction in charges came after a new district attorney was assigned to prosecute the case, and the case was moved to Pahrump from Tonepah. The amended charge was signed on Monday, April 10, 2023.

Tonopah Judge Jennifer Klapper. Photo Censored News via Zoom.

In court, Walsh's attorney said Walsh pleaded guilty to vehicular manslaughter, and a second charge would be dismissed. Vehicular manslaughter is generally prosecuted as a misdemeanor in Nevada. The potential sentencing includes up to 6 months in jail, fines of up to $1,000.00, and a one-year driver's license suspension.

Walsh was initially charged with both driving under the influence resulting in death, and reckless driving resulting in death. The Nye County District Attorney’s Office filed charges against Walsh nine months after Myron was killed.

Walsh’s blood tests showed levels of cannabinoids. However, no charges were filed until Myron's daughter Taylor Dewey persisted in her efforts for charges to be filed.

At the time of the head-on collision, the Nye County Sheriff's report states a blood test was to be carried out by the  Nevada Highway Patrol, at Renown Hospital in Reno after Walsh was airlifted there after the collision.

The accident reports were obtained by Censored News.

The Nye County Sheriff's Office accident report was filed by Deputy RJ Ramirez and states:

Myron Dewey: Defender of the Sacred Places

Myron was killed when he was struck head-on on an isolated dirt road near his family's home near Yomba, Nevada, on Sept. 26, 2021. The day before, Myron live-streamed from the Navy Seals Bombing Range in Fallon, opposing its expansion. The expansion was pushed by the Nevada Congressional delegation and signed into law in December in the military's Defense Spending Bill for 2023.

Shortly before his death, Myron also was battling the lithium mine on the Paiute Massacre Site at Thacker Pass, which is promoted by President Biden as 'green energy' for electric car batteries. Myron was providing supplies for those resisting the lithium mine at the time of his death.

The destruction from the Canadian mining company Lithium Americas is now underway at Thacker Pass, as drone videos reveal the company is now digging into the earth. Paiute and Shoshone have established a prayer camp at the site. Descendants of Ox Sam, one of the only survivors of the massacre, blocked heavy equipment trucks with their bodies and have now been served with restraining orders.

Myron provided coverage of the water protectors' resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock in North Dakota, 2016 -- 2017. Myron was known around the world for his news updates, drone video reports, and live reports documenting the private security hired by Energy Transfer, owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Myron's daughter Taylor told the court today that her dad could not be silenced when it came to doing the right thing.

"It just hurts."

Myron is buried in his homeland of Walker River Paiute in central Nevada, where Wovoka, the bringer of the Ghost Dance, is also buried.

Below is the amended charge for John Walsh:

The amended complaint states:

VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER, in violation of NCC 1.01.175 ref. NRS 484B.657, 484B.213, A MISDEMEANOR, committed in the following manner, to wit: That ON OR ABOUT SEPTEMBER 26, 2021, in Nye County, Nevada, said defendant did willfully and unlawfully drive a vehicle and proximately cause the death of another person through an act or omission that constituted simple negligence, to wit: said defendant drove a gray Toyota Tacoma northbound on lone Road (County Road 21), approximately 6 miles north of the Yomba Shoshone Tribal Office, and drove upon the left half of the highway to pass another vehicle, when the left side was not clearly visible and free of oncoming traffic for a sufficient distance ahead to permit such overtaking and passing to be completely made without interfering with the safe operation of any vehicle approaching from the opposite direction, crashing into the Toyota Highlander being driven in the opposite direction by MYRON C. DEWEY, said MYRON C. DEWEY dying in the crash;

Censored News received this e-mail response to our request for a copy of the plea agreement:

Pursuant to Nevada Revised Statutes, 239.0107(1), this response is given to you not later than the end of the fifth business day after the date this office received your email dated April 12, 2023. You requested a “copy of the plea agreement by John Walsh, in the case of the vehicular death of Myron Dewey.”

Pursuant to NRS 239.0107(1)(b), this office does not have any document responsive to your request (plea agreement) The name and address of the governmental entity that may have custody or control of the record is unknown.

I have attached a copy of an amended criminal complaint that was filed with the court on April 10, 2023.

Chief Deputy District Attorney - Civil
Nye County District Attorney's Office
1520 E. Basin Ave. Suite 107
Pahrump, Nevada 89060

About the author

Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 40 years, beginning at the Navajo Times, during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. She was a correspondent for Lakota Times, Associated Press, and USA Today, covering the Navajo Nation government and federal courts. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she was censored and then terminated. As a result, she created Censored News, now in its 17th year, with no ads, salaries or revenues. Today Censored News is a collective, with more than 22 million pageviews. Norrell has a master's degree in international health.

Copyright Censored News

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