The trucking community has spoken out after a Colorado judge sentenced a truck driver to more than 100 years in prison for his role in a pileup crash that killed four people in 2019.
On Monday, December 13, 25 year old Texas resident Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to 110 years in prison in a Colorado court.
District Court Judge Bruce Jones told Aguilera-Mederos that “if I had the discretion it would not be my sentence,” but also said that he felt compelled to issue the stiff prison term due to mandatory minimum sentencing standards in Colorado.
“I accept and respect what the defendant has said about his lack of intent to hurt people, but he made a series of terrible decisions, reckless decisions,” Judge Jones said.
Truckers Sound Off on 110 Year Sentence
The trucking community shared varied reactions to the sentencing. Many said that the judge got it right and that Aguilera-Mederos deserved to pay for his negligence. Others pointed to the young driver’s inexperience and his lack of intent to harm. Still others said that working as a professional CDL driver carries heightened responsibility.
Check out some reactions from CDLLife readers below.
“WOW! The driver is 25 years old for crying out loud! I’m NOT asking for TOTAL forgiveness. HOWEVER, GRACE goes along way! It’s SAD how people react in today’s society! Total over kill!!” said Laura L Valdez.
“THIS IS WHY COMPANIES NEED TO BE STRICTER ON WHO THEY HIRE!!! I’ve seen way to many companies just put anybody in that driver seat!!! So many people think being a driver is so easy they have NO IDEA how much responsibility is placed upon the driver,” said Michelle Miller.
“Good!! He definitely deserves it.. We don’t need these type of drivers,” said Tammy C Pingleton.
“He shouldn’t have to be the only one to share the blame, his carrier should never have sent him up there without proper training,” Cary Goodman said.
“Conflicted here. 100 years. That’s life. Yes I know, he took lives.The man was clearly distraught. I don’t believe he did this on purpose. Yet as a professional…I remember my first time thru the 70 mountain corridor. Lucky for me, I’m from CO, know the road. Bottom line: no one really trained me for it. I took it slow. Still do, as other “professionals” fly by.So remember this verdict. 100 years, for doing his job, poorly at best. Remember this next time you ignore the speed limit signs,” Jim Paetow said.
“No justice with that sentence. It was a terrible accident caused by ignorance,” said Todd Fouts.
“So sad. Poor kid had no idea what he was getting into! Sad sad. The company should be held responsible.! Not the kid with no experience driving. These trucks should not be allowed on the same roads as cars! And there top speed should be 45 max. So sad for this young man!” said Jason Gaumont.
Aguilera-Mederos was convicted earlier this year on 27 charges, including four counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree assault, ten counts of attempt to commit assault in the first degree- extreme indifference, two counts of vehicular assault- reckless, one count of reckless driving, and four counts of careless driving causing death.He was found not guilty on 15 counts of criminal attempt to commit assault in the first degree.
The charges were issued as a result of a fatal chain reaction crash that happened in slowed traffic on I-70 near Lakewood, Colorado, on April 25, 2019. Aguilera-Mederos was hauling a load of lumber when he reportedly hit speeds of 85 m.p.h. in an area where trucks are limited to 45 m.p.h and lost control of his brakes before crashing into slowed traffic. The pileup involved 24 passenger vehicles and four semi trucks.
Video captured before the crash showed that Aguilera-Mederos bypassed a runaway ramp prior to slamming into slowed traffic, killing four and injuring several others.