Millions voice support for truck driver given 110-year prison sentence for accident

Photo: Aguilera-Mederos in court

Millions of people have signed a petition opposing the 110-year prison sentence imposed by a Colorado judge last week against 26-year-old truck driver and Cuban immigrant Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos. Aguilera-Mederos was part of a tragic accident in 2019 that led to a fiery explosion that killed four people. The jaw-dropping harshness of the sentence has caused outrage across the country, especially among his fellow truck drivers.

In April 2019, Aguilera-Mederos, then 23-years-old, was driving an 18-wheeler half-loaded with lumber along Interstate 70 in Lakewood, near Denver. Aguilera-Mederos’ truck lost its braking function as he was driving downhill on I-70. He also made attempts to pull into runaway ramps, designed for this purpose, but which were occupied. The truck slammed into traffic and led to a 28-car crash. Tests cleared Aguilera-Mederos of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the accident. 

Aguilera-Mederos was arrested soon after the crash and was charged with 27 counts, including four counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree assault and 10 counts of attempted first-degree assault. During the trial, Aguilera-Mederos broke down and pleaded with the judge after his sentencing saying, “I respect my family, and I respect myself, I respect the people who believe in me that I’m not a criminal … I was not out shooting up crowds or a school. I was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I was working and I lost my brake. Truck drivers know this hard moment when you lose your brake. There’s nothing you can do.”

Even the judge in the case, Bruce Jones, agreed that Aguilera-Mederos did not deserve to serve a life sentence and said that he would not have delivered this sentence if it were up to him. But he was bound by Colorado law that requires each count be served consecutively, not concurrently. Aguilera-Mederos’ emotional testimony during the trial sparked massive outrage nationwide at Colorado’s brutal minimum sentencing laws, with over 4.5 million people already signing an online petition calling on Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to grant clemency or a commutation of the sentence. 

In addition, truck drivers across the country have circulated calls for a boycott of Colorado in solidarity with Aguilera-Mederos with the social media hashtag #NoTrucksToColorado. They fear that they too could be put at risk by Colorado’s mandatory minimum sentencing should they be in an accident in the state. Others highlighted that the trucking company that Aguilera-Mederos drove for, Castellano 03 Trucking LLC, should be held accountable since it saw nearly 30 regulatory mechanical violations since 2017.

This case sheds a spotlight on this country’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws that dole out wildly excessive sentences to workers. View the online petition here

Related Articles

Back to top button