A Billings man died Thursday after a pickup truck that he was traveling in went off the road near Lavina.
Golden Valley Undersheriff Mark Olson identified the driver as Julien Ransom, with the cause of death being blunt force trauma.
The 29-year-old was traveling south on Montana Highway 3 in a Dodge Ram, according to a crash narrative from Montana Highway Patrol. The truck went to the right side of the road near mile marker 44 and struck the guardrail. It overturned and went into a gully.
“We know that it happened sometime before 7 a.m., because that’s when we first got reports of debris on the road,” Olson told the Gazette on Saturday.
MHP Trooper John Nickelson estimated that the crash could have occurred as early as midnight. Ransom managed to get out of the truck following the wreck, according to evidence gathered so far in the investigation, but later died at the scene. Drugs, alcohol and speed are not suspected to be factors in the crash.
"Our suspicion is that there was another person in that vehicle when the crash occurred," Nickelson said.
Investigators are currently trying to contact the owner of the truck, which was not reported stolen. The agency is asking for help from anyone who might have more information about the truck or where Ransom was in the hours leading up to the crash. MHP dispatch can be reached at 406-841-7022.
Nearly 170 people have died on Montana’s roads so far in 2021, according to data from MHP. Compared to this same time last year, fatalities are up by about 12%.