A truck driver who was convicted of causing a crash that killed four people and injured six others on Interstate 70 west of Denver, U.S, was sentenced Monday to 110 years in prison.
District Court Judge Bruce Jones imposed the sentence against Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, after determining that it was the mandatory minimum term established by state law, The Denver Post reported.
“I will declare that if I had discretion, it would not be my sentence,” said the judge.
Aguilera-Mederos was convicted in October of vehicular manslaughter and other charges stemming from the April 25, 2019 accident. He testified that the brakes on his semi-trailer failed before colliding with vehicles that had slowed down due to another accident in the suburb of Lakewood, in Denver.
But prosecutors argued that he could have used one of several runaway car ramps when his truck was traveling from the mountains. The chain reaction accident ruptured gasoline tanks, sparking flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the road.
The dead were identified as Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24; William Bailey, 67; Doyle Harrison, 61; and Stanley Politano, 69.
“Sometimes it feels like half a person when you lose your spouse,” said Kathleen Harrison, who was married to Doyle Harrison. “We were a team.”
A Jefferson County jury convicted Aguilera-Mederos for four counts of vehicular manslaughter, six counts of assault in the first degree, 10 counts of attempted assault in the first degree, four counts of reckless driving resulting in death, two counts of vehicular assault and one count of reckless driving.
Aguilera-Mederos, who was hauling lumber, was traveling at least 85 mph (137 kph) on a portion of the interstate where commercial vehicles are limited to 45 mph (72 kph) due to a steep descent from the Rocky Mountain foothills, according to researchers . The initial impact caused a chain reaction accident of 28 vehicles.
Police said that just before the accident, the truck went down a ramp on the side of the interstate that is designed to safely stop trucks and other vehicles that have lost their brakes.
Aguilera-Mederos cried as he spoke during sentencing, apologizing to the victims’ families and asking for forgiveness.
“I am not a criminal”, he said. “I am not a murderer. I am not a murderer. When I look at my charges, we are talking about a murderer, which is not me. I never thought of hurting anyone in my entire life. “