Clean-up for the Accident Near Cody Continues

CHIEF JOSEPH HIGHWAY, Wyo. In a construction accident, the dump truck went off a cliff in the Beartooth Mountains and landed in a creek 200 feet below in October.

On Wednesday, the recovery of the dump truck began.

The very large helicopter carried part of the huge dump truck through the air on a rope dangling below it.

The truck went off a cliff near the Chief Joseph Highway in early October.

The driver, 26-year-old Ronald Frankenbery of Cody died.

“The truck went over into the canyon along Dead Indian Creek, a couple hundred feet below a whole road, and it’s in the bottom of this canyon right here.” Wyoming Department of Transportation spokesman Cody Beers explained.

It was a very large mining size truck.
The extra large dump trucks were used to create a mountain-sized berm below the portion of the Chief Joseph Highway that collapsed and slid down the mountainside last April.

Because the slide left only the inside shoulder intact, Oftedal Construction, the primary contractor, had crews working night and day to rebuild the road, and stabilize the slope below it before winter.

One late Friday night in early October, one truck hit another, then went off the road, through the forest, and over the cliff.

Wyoming Department of Transportation spokesman Cody Beers said the truck had to be removed because it could contaminate the creek in the Shoshone National Forest.

As soon as the winter weather cleared, a Chinook helicopter started carrying the pieces out, one at a time.

The recovery operation may take as long as three days.

Beers said OSHA investigators looked through the truck remains while it was being cut up, and may examine them more after they come out of the canyon.

“Some of the pieces were too big to haul out this morning so we’re going to have to do some more cutting.” He pointed out.

Beers said the chopper can haul up to 20,000 pounds at a time.

He said the tires alone may weigh up to 9000 pounds each.

So, there will be many trips to the canyon, and back to the construction yard before the big truck is retrieved.

Oftedal Construction of Casper finished the road repair last month. Beers said the company has had a good safety record for fifty years.