DENVER — The semi-truck driver convicted on several charges in connection with the April 2019 crash on Interstate 70 that killed four people was sentenced in a Jefferson County courtroom Monday.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to 110 years in prison. Judge A. Bruce Jones said his hands were tied when it came to sentencing because of mandatory minimum laws in the state. He sentenced Aguilera-Mederos to the minimum in the range available to him on all counts, which must be served consecutively.
On Oct. 15, a jury convicted Aguilera-Mederos, 26, on most of the 42 counts he faced, including vehicular homicide, first-degree assault, attempted first-degree assault, reckless driving and careless driving. He was also convicted on multiple counts of careless driving, reckless driving, and vehicular assault, though the jury found he was not guilty on several counts of attempted first-degree assault.
On April 25, 2019, he was driving a semi-truck carrying lumber on eastbound I-70 down from the mountains into Lakewood. He told police he had lost control of his brakes, and when he encountered traffic that was stopped because of another crash on I-70, he drove on the shoulder before crashing into traffic at the Colorado Mills Parkway overpass.
Twenty-eight vehicles, including four semi-trucks, were damaged or caught on fire in the wake of the fiery crash. Investigators estimated he was going at least 85 miles an hour just before the crash.
Four people died in the crash from different vehicles and at least six others were injured, and the eastbound lanes of I-70 were closed in the area for more than a day.
All four victims were Coloradans:
- Doyle Harrison, 61, of Hudson
- William Bailey, 67, of Arvada
- Miguel Angel Lamas Arrellano, 24, of Denver
- Stanley Politano, 69, of Arvada
Aguilera-Mederos was working for a Houston-based trucking company at the time.
During the trial, prosecutors argued that Aguilera-Mederos could have taken steps to prevent the deadly crash, including using a runaway truck ramp miles before the crash, and that he “made a bunch of bad decisions” instead. His defense attorneys claimed he did not know the truck’s brakes were smoking or that he would not be able to stop his truck, though others testified at the trial that they had seen them smoking.
Before Judge Jones handed down his sentence, family and friends of Aguilera-Mederos spoke in support of the 26-year-old. His attorney argued that his actions were a series of negligent decisions, and he was overwhelmed with the situation. He contended that the judge was not bound by the mandatory-minimum sentences laws, citing previous court cases, and urged the judge to consider a lighter sentence. However, the judge did not agree.
Aguilera-Mederos also took to the podium in a tearful plea for leniency.
"I'm dying. It is hard to live with this trauma. I can't sleep. I'm thinking all [the time] about the victims. This was a terrible accident, I know. I take responsibility. But it was not intentional. I am not a criminal," Aguilera-Mederos said.
The judge also heard from the victims and family members of the victims, some through victim-impact statements read by the prosecution. Many of them said Aguilera-Mederos should have used the runaway truck ramp or veered off and away from the line of cars he crashed into.
Restitution will be determined at a later time.