Law Enforcement

Trucker Rogel Aguilera-Mederos Found Guilty of Four Vehicular Homicide Counts

A 2019 booking photo of Rogel Aguilera-Mederos.
A 2019 booking photo of Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. Lakewood Police Department
Update: Late Friday afternoon, October 15, the jury in the trial of truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos found him guilty on 27 of 41 charges against him in regard to an April 2019 crash, including four counts of vehicular homicide — one for each of the people who died in the incident. Here's the breakdown of guilty verdicts:

• Four counts of vehicular homicide
• Six counts of assault in the first degree — extreme indifference
• Ten counts of attempt to commit assault in the first degree — extreme indifference
• Two counts of vehicular assault — reckless
• One count of reckless driving
• Four counts of careless driving causing death

The sentencing hearing is scheduled for December 13. Continue for our previous coverage.

The wheels of justice have certainly ground slowly in the case of Houston's Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, a trucker at the center of a 2019 crash on Interstate 70 near Colorado Mills Parkway that killed four people and injured ten others. But on October 14, the public finally got a chance to hear Aguilera-Mederos speak in detail about what happened. He portrayed the incident as a horrific accident, and said his main regret involves his inability to trade places with the victims.

In his words, "I wished it would have been me."

The first tweet about the crash from the Colorado Department of Transportation, issued at 5:38 p.m. on April 25, 2019, made the incident seem almost routine. The message read: "I-70 EB: Crash at Exit 281-Peoria Street. Rollover crash blocking all lanes."

At 5:54 p.m., CDOT updated the information with more details: "I-70 EB/WB: Road closed at Exit 262-US 40; Colfax Ave. Closed both directions Colfax to Denver West, alternate routes include Colfax, 6th Avenue, or C-470. Long delays expected." At 9:01 p.m., the department added: "I-70 EB/WB: Road closed between Exit 261-US 6; 6th Ave and Exit 265-CO 58."

The Lakewood Police Department also provided Twitter updates throughout the evening. Early on, the LPD revealed that there had been at least one fatality. But at 9:40 p.m., the news got grimmer: "Highway will remain closed at least overnight. We can confirm that there are multiple fatalities and 6 others taken to local hospitals."

Another Lakewood Police Department note stated: "Denver West Parkway bridge over I-70 believed to have suffered heavy damage. Fire remains on scene as hotspots remain."

click to enlarge The crash site. - DENVER 7 VIA YOUTUBE
The crash site.
Denver 7 via YouTube
The victims were subsequently identified as 24-year-old Denver resident Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano; Doyle Harrison, a 61-year-old from Hudson; 67-year-old Arvadan William Bailey; and Stanley Politano, a 69-year-old who was also from Arvada. Meanwhile, Aguilera-Mederos was taken into custody, and on May 3, he was hit with what eventually grew to 41 criminal charges, including four counts of vehicular homicide-reckless and six of first-degree assault.

During this period, Aguilera-Mederos's reactions to these developments began to surface on social media. On May 1, for instance, his wife, Nalian Gonzales, shared these words on social media: "God is with me. This is not just what they are doing to me." And a few weeks later, a video surfaced (it's now been deleted) in which he was quoted in translated Spanish as saying, "You can’t imagine what it’s like when one is at rock bottom, and you see the love of everyone and how they come together to help."

Before long, Aguilera-Medreros secured the services of attorney Rob Corry, who was best known as a marijuana advocate; on May 24, 2019, he told us he felt that his client had been seriously overcharged. But Corry's personal problems — including an arrest history that eventually led to a year-long ban from practicing law — led to his dropping out of the case in early 2020. Attorney James Colgan subsequently took on the task of representing Aguilera-Mederos, but it wasn't a smooth road. On October 6 of this year, the start of the trial was delayed because Colgan was injured in a car crash.

Once the proceedings finally got under way, prosecutors portrayed Aguilera-Mederos as reckless, while the defense team cast him as the victim of numerous mechanical problems with his truck. When those culminated in brake failure, Aguilera-Mederos testified, he considered several options, including driving onto the grassy median that separates eastbound and westbound I-70. But he feared that he'd wind up in the path of incoming traffic on the other side of the highway, he said, and he thought smashing directly into the bridge "would cause an explosion." He also claimed to have missed seeing a couple of signs for a runaway truck ramp. So he tried to slow down by swerving, but that didn't prevent a deadly tragedy.

Closing arguments in the case are expected today, October 15.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts