“Aggressive Prosecution” Argues Trucker Was “Reckless,” Defense Wants More Facts
BREAKING… TRUCKING COMPANY IDENTIFIED… HAS A HISTORY OF BRAKE AND ENGLISH SPEAKING DRIVER SAFETY VIOLATIONS… READ MORE!
Denver, Colorado – The truck driver facing serious charges in connection to a horrific 28-vehicle crash along I-70 on Thursday, which claimed the lives of four people, appeared again in court on Saturday.
Cuban-born truck driver Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, who is facing four counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault, sat somberly with his defense attorney on his right and a translator on his left, as State District Judge Chris Zenisek ordered his bond set at $400,000.
Deputy District Attorney Kate Knowles requested Mederos’ bond be set at $500,000 arguing that the seriousness of his actions and the absence of his ties to Colorado warranted such an amount.
“The people intend to mount a vigorous and aggressive prosecution in response to the carnage this defendant caused by his reckless actions, Knowles said.
She argued, “I can tell the court that during his extensive interview with law enforcement, at no point did he (Mederos) ask if everyone was okay. At no point did he ask if anyone was injured, and I’m told that he demonstrated a nonchalant demeanor.”
Attorney representing Mederos, Robert Corry, said Mederos is deeply remorseful and not a flight risk.
He argued Mederos’ compliance in the investigation, lack of criminal history and sadness for the lives lost are factors that should be weighed heavily.
“The level of my clients sorrow and sympathy for the victims of the accident cannot be overstated,” Corry said. “Everybody agrees this was an accident. The question in this case is culpability.”
Corry indicated prosecutors might be too hasty in charging Mederos because “the investigation is ongoing.”
He asserted, “It might make sense to finish this investigation. We think there must have been some sort of malfunction on this vehicle.”
Mederos appeared to tear up on a couple of occasions during the 17-minute hearing and could be heard sniffling throughout.
Corry said Mederos is suffering greatly from a case of “survivor’s guilt.”
He also indicated numerous members of Mederos’ family traveled from Miami and Houston to support the 23-year-old trucker.
Corry spoke to reporters following the hearing and reacted by saying, “I think there are many sides to this story that will be told in the coming days.”
Mederos Tells Police His Side Of The Story
According to the arrest affidavit, Mederos told investigators the brakes on his flatbed semi-truck failed in the minutes leading up to the crash.
Mederos’ indicated he was traveling eastbound on I-70 and lost control of the big rig on a downhill grade after the brakes failed.
He said he moved to the right shoulder to avoid traffic, but swerved back onto the roadway to maneuver around another semi parked along the shoulder.
Mederos said he noticed the speedometer of the truck read 85 mph as he approached the slowed traffic.
He told police he closed his eyes seconds before he plowed into the stopped and defenseless motorists along I-70, and believed he was going to die.
The document states that after Mederos’ semi collided with numerous passenger vehicles and another semi, setting off a chain reaction of what investigators described as “true carnage,” Mederos was able to crawl from the truck as the fire started and spread to other vehicles.
Jonathan Valdez and Pedro Olvera were in a work truck heading east on I-70 when they observed Mederos speeding and driving erratically.
They told police they followed the semi and recorded what they saw with a cell phone camera. (Video Below)
They also told police they noticed a trail of fluid coming from the rear of the semi.
The probable cause statement confirms investigators did review Olvera’s video and observed the semi driving in the far-right lane of the highway “under a clearly marked yellow caution sign” which reads “RUNAWAY TRUCK RAMP 2000 FEET.”
It also states there was a speed limit sign with a clearly marked speed limit of 65 mph for passenger vehicles and a 45 mph speed limit for commercial vehicles.
The video then shows the semi driving past the runaway ramp. Police stated the semi had a “free and unobstructed” path to the runaway ramp on the right side, “but instead swerves left from lane #3 to lane #1, … then forces a pickup truck that is in lane #1 off the left side of the highway.”
Police then say Mederos continued under another yellow cautionary sign that read “TRUCKERS YOU ARE NOT DOWN YET. ANOTHER 1 ½ MILES OF STEEP GRADE AND SHARP CURVES TO GO.”
UPS semi-driver Kevin Kirkpatrick told police he saw Mederos drive past him on the right side of the highway at an estimated speed of 100 mph just before the collision with the other vehicles occurred, according to the affidavit.
Brett Dickerson was reportedly driving east on I-70 when he saw the semi speeding and described Mederos as “wide-eyed” with a look of terror on his face.
Dickerson pulled along the side of the road to “gesture to the driver,” the affidavit states.
Four motorists, who were each alone in their vehicles, perished in the horrific crash.
Their identities have yet to be released.
Authorities say the deceased were trapped inside their vehicles and burned so badly they were unrecognizable.
The Federal Response
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it was monitoring the investigation and will likely consider new traffic safety recommendations as a result.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also said it is also working with state and local authorities to assist in the investigation.
Mederos is due back in court on Friday, May 4, 2019, at 10 a.m. when formal charges are expected to be brought.
Prosecutor’s have said additional charges may be filed if warranted.
If convicted on the six charges so far, Mederos could spend more than 30 years in prison.
Stay with Transportation Nation Network for the latest on this developing story.
Read more of Transportation Nation Network’s reporting on this story HERE.