4.3M People Want Mercy for Truck Driver in Accident That Killed 4

Petition calls for clemency in Colorado tragedy
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 20, 2021 2:31 AM CST
Updated Dec 20, 2021 6:52 AM CST
4.3M People Want Mercy for Truck Driver in Accident That Killed 4
This 2019 photo provided by the Lakewood Police Department shows Rogel Aguilera-Mederos.   (Lakewood Police Department via AP, File)

More than 4 million people so far have signed a Change.org petition seeking clemency for the truck driver sentenced last week to 110 years behind bars for his role in a crash that left four people dead in 2019. Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, now 26, says his brakes malfunctioned as he drove downhill on a grade on I-70 in Colorado, USA Today reports. But prosecutors argued his failure to steer the lumber-hauling semitrailer onto the highway's runaway truck ramp, among other decisions he made, made him responsible for the deaths of Doyle Harrison, 61; William Bailey, 67; Stanley Politano, 69; and Miguel Lamas Arrellano, 24. Even the judge who issued the sentence said he disagreed with it, but he said state law requires the sentences for each count to be served consecutively, the New York Times reports.

The petition points out Aguilera-Mederos had a clean driving record and criminal history at the time of the crash, and that neither drugs nor alcohol played a role. It argues that the trucking company, identified as Castellano 03 Trucking LLC in Houston, Texas, is to blame for the accident. Others have called for something to be done, including an editorial in the Denver Post calling for Colorado's governor to commute the sentence, and even some family members of the victims say the sentence is too long. At car website Jalopnik, Adam Ismail wrote, "sending an employee to a lifetime-and-a-half in prison as a result of a tragedy stemming from equipment failure isn’t going to do anyone any favors." Aguilera-Mederos' lawyer says he will seek a commutation, which would lessen the sentence. (More Colorado stories.)

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