Crash claims Cowley restaurant owner

A one-vehicle rollover east of Powell late last Tuesday night, Aug. 14, claimed the life of a Cowley man and may have also cost Cowley its restaurant, at least for now.

Richard Munsinger

Rick Munsinger, 49, owner and operator of the Cowtown Café, was eastbound on Lane 9 east of Powell when he lost control of his 1991 Chevrolet pickup and was ejected as the truck rolled, Park County Sheriff Scott Steward said. The crash happened around 11:15 p.m. on Aug. 14, he said.

The Park County S.O. responded along with the Powell Fire Dept. and Powell EMS, Steward said.

“The driver appeared to have been ejected and had not been wearing a seat belt,” Steward said. “There were no signs of breathing or a pulse. He was confirmed dead at the scene.”

Riding with Munsinger was his 14-year-old grandson, Eduardo Iribe, of Cowley. Iribe was alert and “moving around” when deputies arrived, Steward said, and was treated and released at the Powell Valley Medical Center. He was believed to have been wearing his seat belt, the sheriff said.

Munsinger was traveling east on Lane 9 when the pickup drifted off the right side of the road. He overcorrected to the left, and the truck crossed the road and started to roll, making one complete roll – during which Munsinger was ejected — and coming to rest on its wheels.

Steward said it does appear that alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Munsinger and wife Esther Valenzuela took over operation of the Cowtown Café in January of 2010 and transformed the restaurant into a popular destination for restaurant-goers from the surrounding area, including Munsinger’s famous wood-fired pizza.

The restaurant is currently closed.

Services for Rick Munsinger were held Monday at Thompson Funeral Home in Powell.

A benefit dinner for the Munsinger family will be held Sunday at the Brandin’ Iron Restaurant in Lovell, hosted by the Brandin’ Iron staff and volunteers. All proceeds will go to the family to help pay for funeral expenses.

The dinner will run from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Brandin’ Iron on Sunday, Aug. 26.

By David Peck