A petition in support of a truck driver sentenced to 110 years in prison for a deadly pileup on a Colorado interstate highway that killed four people has reached more than 4.5 million signatures, reportedly the top signed petition ever on Change.org.
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, 26, received the lengthy sentence on Dec. 13 after he caused a huge crash in April 2019, according to KABC-TV. Aguilera-Mederos told investigators that he was driving a semi tractor-trailer at the speed of 85 mph when the brakes failed, with the affiliate citing an arrest affidavit to report that he tried to pull over to the shoulder to avoid stopped traffic, but another semi-truck had already stopped there.
A fiery 28-car pileup resulted, with multiple fatalities.
Aguilera-Mederos was charged with vehicular homicide and 23 other charges, including six counts of assault in the first degree — extreme indifference; 10 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, KABC-TV reported.
Found guilty in October, he was sentenced to the minimum available to him on all counts, to be served consecutively, which totals 110 years.
Colorado District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones said during the sentencing hearing that he was bound to the mandatory-minimum sentencing laws in the state, according to KMGH.
The Colorado General Assembly website states: “Colorado law requires courts to sentence most individuals convicted of certain categories of crimes to a mandatory minimum period of incarceration.”
Cuban immigrant Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos said he was “working for a better future for my family.” Sad, tragic case all the way around. pic.twitter.com/fnUOtnrXPg
— Joseph Morris (@JosephMorrisYT) December 16, 2021
A petition was launched on Change.org calling for clemency or commutation of his sentence.
“We all know of the crash that happened on I-70 in Denver, Colorado. Most of us have heard facts in the case,” the petition states. “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. He’s 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.”
“The trucking company has had several inspections since 2017, with several mechanical violations,” the petition alleges. “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.”
Gage Evans, 65, the wife of one of the victims in the crash, spoke to the New York Times and said the truck driver deserves to spend time in prison.
“This person should spend some time in prison and think about his actions,” Evans said. “I don’t think he should be let off with a slap on the wrist.”
Aguilera-Mederos’ attorney, James Colgan, told CNN that his client does not deserve to die in prison.
“There will be an appeal as to the facts and mistakes made in the trial,” Cogan said. “The issue with this appeal will not be the sentence itself. Under the law, the Court was not incorrect. However, the law, as written, is barbaric and Draconian.”
“There needs to be a change in the law,” he insisted.
KABC-TV reported that truckers nationwide are showing their solidarity with Aguilera-Mederos by threatening to stop moving goods to and from Colorado, employing hashtags like #NoTrucksColorado and #DontDriveColorado to spread awareness on social media.
Truckers are refusing to enter Colorado in protest of Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos getting a 110 year prison sentence. His brakes failed + his runaway truck killed 4 people. Truckers say his company should be held liable for lax maintenance + rushed training. #notruckstocolorado pic.twitter.com/smNHHG1tqS
— Inhabit (@readinhabit) December 19, 2021
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