For the past several days the transportation world is talking about a CDL driver's harsh sentencing. Our country is divided between " He deserves it" mostly from non CDL drivers and " That is too harsh., drunk drivers get smaller sentences" from people that work in that industry.
People are fighting on social media, each having their own opinions on the matter, expressing their feelings and even signing petitions to have his sentence reduced . So far over 3 million signatures have been collected in Change.org petition, asking Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to grant Aguilera-Mederos clemency or commutation as time served. It seems like the transportation world is coming together in support of this young driver and that in our eyes is very admirable...., given that drivers are really busy this time of the year.
So here is what happened :
On Monday, December 13th 2021 the District Court Judge, Bruce Jones imposed the 110 year sentence, after finding it was the mandatory minimum set forth under state law as reported by The Denver Post.
"I will state that if I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence," the judge said.
But let's go back to the beginning of this horrible accident
On April 25, 2019 a 23 year old semi truck driver lost control of his vehicle and caused a fatal chain reaction crash in slowed traffic on I-70 near Lakewood, Colorado. Reportedly he lost his brakes in Colorado’s high country and failed to take a runaway truck ramp, crashing into traffic under an overpass. The incident destroyed 28 vehicles and had four people dead and six others wounded.
The 24-year-old Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 67-year-old William Bailey, 61-year-old Doyle Harrison, and 69-year-old Stanley Politano ( a casino executive) died on that tragic day.
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos was injured in the crash, but not seriously, Countryman said. There was no evidence of drugs or alcohol in his system. He was arrested and taken to the Jefferson County Jail after being discharged from the hospital.
After the pileup during his intervues he insisted to authorities that his brakes had failed. But prosecutors clearly had a different theory. On May 3 2019, Aguilera-Mederos was hit with forty criminal charges, including four counts of vehicular homicide-reckless, six of first-degree assault, and 24 counts of attempted first-degree assault.
But Who is Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos?
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos is the CDL driver sentenced to 110 years in jail! He was convicted of 27 counts, including four counts of vehicular homicide that rocked the transportation world.
In a very emotional statement issued in court just moments before his sentence was handed down, Aguilera-Mederos said that he is not a killer and never intended to hurt anyone. He expressed remorse for the victims and said that he is experiencing a large amount of psychological distress as a result of the fatal crash.
“It’s hard to live with this trauma. I can’t sleep, I’m thinking all the time about the victims,” Aguilera-Mederos said. “… This was a terrible accident, I know. I take the responsibility. But I’m not a criminal.”
On the day that changed his life forever he worked for a woman named Yaimy Segura, a mother of three small children that according to her own statement to the FMCSA is on government assistance because of this accident. Per court records, she owned 1 truck, the truck with the "faulty brakes" that Rogel was driving on April 25 2019. The company called Castellano 03 Trucking LLC belonged to Yaimy and was dissolved after this tragic accident occured. Per her own statement given to FMCSA the company had 1 truck registered under its name and three other trucks that they leased from other people.
After a compliance review of the company's safety records it was discovered that Castellano 03 Trucking LLC was doing some inventive log book scamming, where the drivers would go into off duty in let's say Keenesburg CO and magically appear to wake up and be driving the next day from the location of Harold, Tx. Which in ONLY 682 AIR MILES away from where he went to sleep. Totally plausible, that aliens abducted the truck and moved it over 700 miles away from where he went in to the sleeper berth.
Jokes aside, what they were allegedly doing cost them a hefty penalty of $10,310 which they tried to overturn in court. On August 27th 2019 Mrs Segura signed a personal statement explaining; as she called them
"... some of the irregularities detected during the investigation" Per her own words she purchased an ELD system called ELD MANDATE and wasn't aware that logs can be edited. Or that in fact it's an AORBD and not an ELD as advertised. We search the FMCSA certification website and found that ELD MANDATE revoked it's certificate December 15th 2019. What led to that design.... we can only guess....
But the investigation didn't stop there,
Texas DOT also discovered that Castellano 03 Trucking LLC hired their drives and SEND them on the road with loads before the negative drug test results were posted. Segura responded that the driver in question drove only 50 miles without a drug test result - Which might be true, but in our opinion is still very dangerous.
You see Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos started driving as a commercial truck driver for Castellano 03 Trucking LLC on April 12, 2019 without a negative drug test. This is not to say that Rogel did not pass the drug test, but he was driving before the results were ever presented to the company Castellano 03 Trucking LLC. 5 or 50 miles ..., it doesn't really matter, all trucking companies are supposed to follow the rules and to make sure that the people working for them are safe on the road.
SO in all reality, as described in the TXDOT compliance report:
Rogel was hired as a commercial driver on April 12, 2019 and dispatched on April 12, 2019 without a Negative drug test.
On April 17, 20219 Rogel "falls asleep" in his truck in Little Rock Arkansas and mysteriously wakes up and starts driving his truck 300 miles away in Charleston Missouri.
On April 24, 2019 Rogel "falls asleep" in Fort Collins CO and wakes up and starts driving again in Limon Co, having mysteriously moved over 150 miles in his sleeper berth status.
Then Rogel starts driving the 96 miles to Lakewood Colorado where the lives of so many people were devastatingly changed within a split second.
So now we have a fresh new 23 year old driver, who speaks limited, and we mean..., very limited English at that time, driving a semi truck that is not maintained well, with very little sleep, going 85 miles an hour into stopped traffic, missing numerous truck breaking ramps...most of this is all recorded and caught on video. - If that is not a disaster waiting to happen..., we don't know what is?!?
Rogel, the truck driver killed four people when he drove his out-of-control semi truck into stopped traffic and was sentenced Monday to 110 years in prison.
In our opinion it's a bit too much, as accidents can happen to the best of us, but what you need to understand is that this opens the door for harsher sentences for commercial drivers involved in fatal accidents.
Not to play devil's advocate here, but I personally think that the driver took all the blame, where his employer suffered only financial losses.
When opening and operating a trucking company you are required to learn the rules. You are required to follow the regulations. You are required to ensure your drivers are safe and reliable. This young man had his whole life infront of him, but was allowed to cheat the system. And NO he is not a criminal, or at least not in the way we understand the meaning of that word, but he was doing something illegal, something very wrong and very, very dangerous..., and voluntary or not his employer at the time was allowing him to do so. Because of that four people lost their lives and many others were injured.
And YES we understand that it's hard for the small trucking companies to make ends meet, we understand that ever since the ELD Mandate became rule it has been a race with the clock, but we also understand that drivers need to be trained. Especially the youngsters who have no experience. We understand that those rules and regulations are there for a reason and are NOT just a suggestion. You as a trucking company owner should be responsible enough to at least get familiar with the rules or hire a professional to explain them to you.