Authorities had been seeking man who died on Chief Joseph Highway job


A Cody construction worker who died in an Oct. 12 crash along the Chief Joseph Highway wasn’t supposed to be at the work site that night: According to court records, he was supposed to have turned himself in to law enforcement.

In the hours before Ronald “Ronny” Frankenberry II’s haul truck drove over a cliff, authorities in Cody had tried to take him into custody, according to an affidavit from Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Lee Pence, who’s helping investigate the 26-year-old’s death.

Law enforcement’s search for Frankenberry began on the afternoon of Oct. 11 — after he failed two drug tests and walked out of the Cody probation office against his supervising agent’s orders, Pence wrote.

Authorities located Frankenberry on Oct. 12, but he was able to elude them. Around 4 p.m., he called his probation agent, who told Frankenberry to turn himself in.

“Mr. Frankenberry said he would do so, but failed to show up,” Pence wrote. “Instead, he arrived late for work on Chief Joseph Pass.”

Frankenberry was working for Oftedal Construction as part of a $5.5 million effort to stabilize a sliding section of the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway (Wyo. Highway 296).

He was on a night shift, helping with the contractor’s efforts to build a stabilizing berm before winter sets in.

A co-worker later told investigators that Frankenberry was “not himself” when he arrived at work that night, visiting his personal vehicle and the bathroom more often than normal.

Shortly before 10 p.m., Frankenberry’s haul truck clipped another truck, then “continued off the haul road, over a berm, through trees and off a cliff,” Pence wrote.

After a roughly 250-foot drop, the truck came to rest upside down in a creek. Frankenberry died at the scene.

“There were no signs of braking at any point, the emergency braking systems were not selected and the steering of the vehicle appeared to be under control,” Pence wrote.

The trooper composed the affidavit in order to obtain a warrant to search Frankenberry’s personal vehicle, a Toyota Highlander. Court records indicate that the only item the trooper seized in the search was a capsule of Vyvanse — a stimulant most commonly used to treat ADHD — found on the floorboard.

The patrol’s investigation remains open. Park County Coroner Tim Power said he received a toxicology report on Monday, but declined to share the results, citing the pending investigation by law enforcement and OSHA. The report is expected to show what, if any, substances were in Frankenberry’s system at the time of his death.

Frankenberry had tested positive for methamphetamine in two tests overseen by his probation and parole agent on Oct. 11 and then left the office, Pence wrote. That led probation and parole to issue an “arrest and hold” order later in the day.

Court and Wyoming Department of Corrections records say Frankenberry was on probation for a misdemeanor offense of using meth in Cody in April and a felony count of robbery by accountability in Montana from 2012. The felony conviction stemmed from Frankenberry’s participation in the robberies of two Billings casinos.

Since the Oct. 12 crash occurred on a work site, Wyoming OSHA is also investigating Frankenberry’s death. Their investigations typically take around 45 days to complete, said Tyler Stockton, communications manager for the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.

“Wyoming OSHA goes in and tries to keep an open mind and investigate the entire situation to see what happened,” he said last week.

No information is released, with things staying “pretty quiet,” until an investigation is final, Stockton said. A 45-day timeline would tentatively put the release of OSHA’s final report sometime in late November.

Work on the Chief Joseph Highway was halted immediately after the Oct. 12 crash. OSHA later cleared Oftedal to resume work, with the project restarting on Oct. 17.

A Wyoming Department of Transportation spokesman has said the department has confidence in Oftedal, saying the company was built on safety.