Truck Driver Who Caused Deadly Crash Gets 110 Years

Colorado law requires Rogel Aguilera-Mederos to serve 16 sentences consecutively
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2019 1:50 PM CDT
Updated Dec 14, 2021 6:07 PM CST

(Newser) Update: A truck driver who slammed into traffic on I-70 in Colorado in 2019, leaving four people dead and six others injured, has been sentenced to 110 years in prison. Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, said his brakes failed, but prosecutors said his reckless behavior and bad decisions—especially his failure to use a runaway truck ramp—caused the crash, NBC reports. Judge A. Bruce Jones gave Aguilera-Mederos the minimum 10-year sentence on six crash-related charges and the minimum 5-year sentence on ten others, 9News reports. The judge said that if it was up to him, the sentences would not have to be served consecutively, but state law gave him no choice. Our story from April 27, 2019 follows:

A truck driver who plowed into stalled traffic and sparked a huge crash has been charged with four counts of vehicular homicide, police tell NBC News. Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, 23, was carrying lumber in Denver on Thursday when his semi hit Interstate 70 traffic stymied by an earlier accident. "Stemming from interviews and evidence that was gathered overnight ... the proximate cause of the crash is on the driver of the semi," says Lakewood Police Department Agent Ty Countryman. "The carnage was significant—just unbelievable." The crash triggered a massive fire and damaged a bridge that now needs two to four inches of asphalt replaced. NBC 9 Colorado video shows vehicles ablaze and wood pieces all over the highway.

Comedian and vlogger Josh McCutchen was stuck in traffic when his camera caught the semi blowing past. "Oh my God!" he yelled. He soon saw "plumes of black smoke ahead," he later said, and drove up to discover fire "shooting off the sides of the overpass. It was crazy." Nearby panhandler Darin Barton is being recognized for dropping his sign and pulling people from their cars: "As soon as I [saw] flames, I headed under the bridge, grabbed three or four people out of a couple cars," he tells KDVR. "I didn't do this all myself. There were other people in traffic that helped." Aguilera-Mederos, a Cuban living legally in Texas with a green card, was injured but not seriously. His brother tells CNN the truck's brakes failed, but if that's true vehicular manslaughter charges could still apply. (Read more car crash stories.)

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