It was on April 25, 2019, that Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, a twenty-three-year-old semi-truck driver from Texas caused a wreck that resulted in the deaths of four and the injuries of six. Aguilera-Mederos attempted to slam on his breaks when he realized that traffic was slowing and stopping for another wreck on I-70 in Lakewood Colorado.
Tragically, diesel fuel was spilled and caught fire, engulfing several cars. Several vehicles were destroyed, and even the road was so severely damaged that portions of the interstate had to be closed down for repairs and to ensure that safe travel could be resumed. The black smoke was seen for miles.
On April 26th, 2019, just one day later, Aguilera-Mederos was arrested for suspicion of vehicular manslaughter. The “authorities said it did not appear drugs or alcohol were involved, and the crash does not appear to be intentional. Officials said they were looking into whether the truck’s brakes were working.”
Provided below is the video that YouTuber Josh McCutcheon posted to his YouTube page Burger Planet. Please bear in mind that that the video below contains disturbing and graphic images as well as vulgar and crass language from McCutcheon through the video.
At 2:17 into the video we see the runaway diesel fly past the YouTuber. At 2:47, he sees something is wrong and flip his camera over to surveil the damage to what he says might have been an “explosion” but that we now know was part of the wreck caused by Aguilera-Mederos’ vehicle crashing into several cars. Throughout this part of the video and for several minutes you can hear loud pops as things explode or ignite. It’s a very long video and it shows just how horrific the tragedy was.
On Wednesday, December 15th, 2021, Aguilera-Mederos who is now 26 years of age was sentenced for vehicular homicide. The sentencing imposed by the judge raised more than a few eyebrows. 110 years for the four lives lost that horrific day.
“Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, who was convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges, testified that he tried to slam on the brakes to stop his semi trailer hauling lumber on April 25, 2019, but said they failed. Prosecutors focused on his decision not to take any runaway truck ramps while traveling about 85 mph on Interstate 70 west of Denver.
“The chain-reaction wreck ruptured gas tanks, causing flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the highway. Those killed were Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24; William Bailey, 67; Doyle Harrison, 61; and Stanley Politano, 69.”
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos spoke out during his sentencing and became overcome with emotion when he discussed what had happened that day as he begged forgiveness and understanding.
“I am not a criminal,” he said. “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.”
The judge remarked that if he did not feel that it was required that he issue the 110 year sentence, he would not do so. When the defense lawyers cited precedence in another case, the judge said he’d allow his sentencing and the case mentioned to be reviewed. Until that happens, the sentencing stands.
But is it right? According to one Colorado website, even vehicular homicide due to reckless actions carries a two-to-six-year penalty per charge. Unless I have done my math wrong that should be a maximum of 24 years. Now maybe some of those other charges are stemming from financial damages, but as the defense pointed out “there is case law that would allow for a sentence of 20 years”.
Believe it or not, murderers of actual malicious and first degree homicides have been released on parole, only to kill again. In no way should the losses of the families or the injuries of other victims of the pile-up not see justice. But 110 years? If society were looking at this honestly and fairly, is that really acceptable?
Child rapists, murderers, even serial killers (as in have killed more than one person), have received far more lenient charges and what’s worse? They went on to kill again. Ranker compiled a list of 18 different Paroled Murderers Who Killed Again (ranker.com).
Another list was put together of 17 famous persons who may or may not have been convicted of murder, but definitely weren’t faced with the prison sentence that the Aguilera-Mederos is facing.
As an example of one of the many on the list, Donte Stallworth, an NFL star who ran over and killed a pedestrian while under the influence was only sentenced to 30 days. He only served 24 of those days. Sure, he was on 8 years of probation, but the man killed someone and he didn’t even get a full month behind bars!
It remains to be seen what will happen with Aguilera-Mederos’ case, but at the moment things don’t exactly look bright for his future.