Just days after the trucking world was rocked by the sentencing of a young truck driver who triggered a pileup crash that killed four in 2019, more than 1 million people have signed a petition asking Colorado officials for leniency.
On Monday, 25 year old Texas resident Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to 110 years in prison in a Colorado court. He was convicted on 27 charges, including four counts of vehicular homicide, for a fatal chain reaction crash that happened in slowed traffic on I-70 near Lakewood, Colorado, on April 25, 2019.
Aguilera-Mederos lost control of his brakes and bypassed a runaway ramp before crashing into slowed traffic. The pileup involved 24 passenger vehicles and four semi trucks. Four people died and six others were hurt.
District Court Judge Bruce Jones told Aguilera-Mederos that he had no choice but to issue the 110 year prison term due to mandatory minimum sentencing standards in Colorado, but also said that “if I had the discretion it would not be my sentence.”
In an emotional statement issued in court just moments before the 110 year sentence was handed down, Aguilera-Mederos said that he is not a killer and never intended to hurt anyone. He expressed remorse for the victims and said that he is experiencing a large amount of psychological distress as a result of the fatal crash.
“It’s hard to live with this trauma. I can’t sleep, I’m thinking all the time about the victims,” Aguilera-Mederos said. “… This was a terrible accident, I know. I take the responsibility. But I’m not a criminal.”
By Thursday morning, more than 1.446 million people signed a Change.org petition asking Colorado Governor Jared Polis and the Jefferson County Courts to grant clemency or to offer time served to Aguilera-Mederos.
From the petition:
We all know of the crash that happened on I-70 in Denver, Colorado. Most of us have heard facts in the case. Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, 23 has nothing on his driving record, or on his criminal history. He had complied with every single request by the Jefferson County courts, and investigators on the case. Hes passed all of the drug and alcohol tests that were given including a chemical test. This accident was not intentional, nor was it a criminal act on the drivers part. No one but the trucking company he is/was employed by should be held accountable for this accident. No, we are not trying to make it seem any less of a tragic accident that it is because yes, lives were lost. We are trying to hold the person who needs to be held responsible, responsible. The trucking company has had several inspections since 2017, with several mechanical violations. There are many things Rogel could have done to avoid the courts, but he took responsibility showed up and severely apologized to the victims families. Some of the families even offered Forgiveness. Rogel is not a criminal, the company he was working for knew the federal laws that go into truck driving but they failed to follow those laws. Rogel has said several times that he wishes he had the courage to crash and take his own life that day, this tragic accident wasn’t done with Intent, it wasnt a criminal act, it was an accident. Since he has been sentenced, i have changed this to granting Rogel clemency or commutation-as time served.
Here are some of the reasons that petition signers offered for supporting leniency for Aguilera-Mederos.
“Been following this case closely, as well many others in my industry are. This is such a sad, devastating situation all around. His initial error of choosing high speed up the hill combined with no experience and all the errors committed after resulted deadly. Looked at the video of the miles of road he drove before the crash. He let the situation overcome him due to no experience. Thousands of truckers pass thru there all the time with no incident. He should have rejected the load that took him there and once there he should have stay empty and picked something once out of the mountains. I would have liked to see his log book and paperwork to get a view of his week. Loads to the northwest paid good in April 2019 and I guess for some it was enough to risk it. I feel he had the option to say no to the loads taking him there. Therefore, yes he should spend time in jail but the sentence/ruling was EXCESSIVE AND UNFAIR. PLEASE REDUCE/REANALYZE THE SENTENCING. This man was working; not out looking for trouble. True dangerous criminals have been let out on the street by judges and this man was out making a living,” said Karen Zamudio.
“Although we can still say he was at some fault for not being aware of what he was doing with his truck and the company allowing him to continue to drive knowing he might of had little to no experience and perhaps correct pre trips and understanding of Hwy signs could of prevented this horrible accident I still think 110 years is extreme. Especially compared to the people who have got off the hook for intentionally committing mass murder or rape. Give him a fair sentencing. Prayers to the lives lost that day. Until then #noloadstocolorado,” William Herrera wrote.
“What happened is a tragedy, and I’m so sorry for the 4 lives that where lost. This accident was not intentional and it was proven that the brakes malfunction. This sentence is very harsh, please have clemency,” wrote Sandra Villatoro.
“It was not intentional, he seems very sorry. And the COMPANY THAT HE USED TO WORK FOR SHOULD HAVE SOME BLAME TOO! Why its only ALL the faults on him?” said Laura Acosta.
James Colgan, the attorney who represents Aguilera-Mederos, told CNN that he plans to appeal.