A wave of protests have emerged in the trucking community after a Colorado judge handed out an unusual, hefty 110-year sentence to a truck driver who was convicted in a fiery 2019 crash that killed four people and injured several others. 

The man, Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was found guilty on 27 counts on Monday including vehicular homicide after he crashed an out-of-control semi truck that reportedly lost its brakes as he descended on Interstate 70, according to CBS4 Denver. The crash reportedly damaged or destroyed 28 vehicles.

The four victims killed in the crash are Doyle Harrison, 61, of Hudson, Colorado; William Bailey, 67, of Arvadal; Miguel Angel Lamas Arrellano, 24, of Denver; and Staney Politano, 69, of Arvada, according to Daily Mail.

Aguilera-Mederos, who was 23 years old at the time, is reportedly from Texas and worked for a Houston-based truck company, Castellano 03 Trucking, LLC, according to the Denver Post. Castellano 03 could not be reached for comment. The company is a small carrier with five trucks and five drivers, according to the Post, and is no longer active with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, according to records. 

Investigators with the Lakewood Police Department said no alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash, and his attorney told the judge that Aguilera-Mederos had no prior criminal record and he was an immigrant from Cuba who greatly valued his life in America, according to the report.

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His case has caused a national uproar as many question how Aguilera-Mederos could net such a lengthy sentence in comparison with other crimes that have gotten lighter sentences like rape and sexual assault. 

“Actual rapists and murderers, WHO MEANT HARM, aren’t given 110 years,” wrote journalist and author Shaun King on Facebook.

During sentencing, the judge said under guidelines set by the law his sentence could be no less than 110 years, CBS4 reported. 

“I accept and respect what the defendant has said about his lack of intent to hurt people, but he made a series of terrible decisions, reckless decisions,” the judge said.

“If I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence.”

People expressed their frustration with the justice system on social media following his sentence and countless supporters within the truck industry are protesting the sentence by refusing to drive through the state of Colorado.

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Heather Gilbee started a change.org petition to grant Aguilera-Mederos clemency or commutation-as time served. The petition has become one of the top signed on the site, receiving more than 3 million signatures of its 4.5 million goal.

“This accident was not intentional, nor was it a criminal act on the drivers part,” Gilbee wrote in the post.

“No one but the trucking company he is/was employed by should be held accountable for this accident. No, we are not trying to make it seem any less of a tragic accident that it is because yes, lives were lost. We are trying to hold the person who needs to be held responsible, responsible. The trucking company has had several inspections since 2017, with several mechanical violations.”

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On Thursday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis responded to questions about the possibility of granting him clemency.

“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.

Aguilera-Mederos who gave an emotional testimony in court Monday, said his life has been very difficult, terrible and depressing since the accident on April 25, 2019. 

“I know that it has been hard and heartbreaking for everyone involved in this tragedy,” he said crying. 

“Your honor I don’t know why I’m alive. Like for what?”

Aguilera-Mederos elaborated in his testimony that he wished he had died rather than the victims. 

“I ask God too many times why them and not me? Why did I survive that accident?” he said.

An appeal is now planned in Aguilera-Mederos’ case according to CBS4, but will be based on any errors that may have occurred during the trial rather than the sentence given.


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