Millions of people are outraged after a Houston truck driver was sentenced to 110 years in prison for a deadly 2019 car pile-up in Colorado.
“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 [sic] 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 [sic] part,” a petition on Change.org with more than 4 million signatures reads.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced in Colorado last Monday to 110 consecutive years in prison after he was found guilty on 27 counts in the 2019 crash that killed four people and injured others.
FILE – This 2019 photo provided by the Lakewood Police Department shows Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. Aguilera-Mederos, who was convicted in October 2021 of causing a fiery pileup that killed four people and injured six others on Interstate 70 west of Denver in April 2019, was sentenced Monday, Dec. 13 to 110 years in prison. (Lakewood Police Department via AP, File) (Lakewood Police Department via AP, File)
Colorado District Court Judge A. Bruce Jones said during the Monday hearing that he was bound to the state’s laws on mandatory-minimum sentencing.
Investigators of the crash said Aguilera-Mederos, who was 23 at the time, lost control of the semi-truck after its brakes failed on a highway near Denver. The truck failed to take a runaway truck ramp before it slammed into dozens of other cars that were stopped on the highway, causing an explosion.
“I am not a criminal,” he said at his sentencing while tearing up. “I am not a murderer. I am not a killer. When I look at my charges, we are talking about a murderer, which is not me. I have never thought about hurting anybody in my entire life.”
FILE – Workers clear debris from the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 on April 26, 2019, in Lakewood, Colo., following a deadly pileup involving a semi-truck hauling lumber. A truck driver who was convicted of causing the fiery pileup that killed four people and injured six others on Interstate 70 west of Denver was sentenced Monday, Dec. 13, 2021, to 110 years in prison. Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was convicted in October of vehicular homicide and other charges stemming from the April 2019 crash. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Truck drivers are now reportedly protesting driving through Colorado, while other protests are planned in the coming weeks and a civil rights group has called for a pardon or reduced sentencing for Aguilera-Mederos.
One viral TikTok video with more than 4 million views called on truck drivers to join them in an effort to protest Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence.
“This truck is no longer going to Colorado. We want justice for Rogel Aguilera. Truckers, he needs our help,” user @ntgi2020 posted.
A top comment reads: “I am a trucker and will NO LONGER be going to Colorado.”
The national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens Domingo Garcia said the civil rights group sent a letter to Democratic Colorado Gov. Jared Polis asking for a pardon or reduced sentencing.
“It was an egregious miscarriage of justice,” Garcia said.
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis speaks during a news conference about Colorado offering coronavirus vaccinations to children, Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File) (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
“He got 110 years in prison on his first offense when it was clearly an accident,” Garcia said. “It could happen to anybody. Your brakes go out. It was not intentional. It’s not something that he was trying to do.”
Polis said Thursday that he had not yet received a clemency application from Aguilera-Mederos, but his office reviews every such application.
“We review all clemency applications, we’ve yet to receive one from the individual but every clemency application that we receive, we review and make a determination,” he said.
The petition highlights that Aguilera-Mederos has asked for forgiveness for the crash and has “said several times that he wishes he had the courage to crash and take his own life that day.”
“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,” the petition states.
“This tragic accident wasn’t done with Intent, it wasnt [sic] a criminal act, it was an accident.”