An online change.org petition to grant a 26-year old trucker clemency has now reached 4.4 million signatures. Trucker Rogel Aguilera-Mederos caused a fatal crash in Colorado involving over a dozen vehicles in 2019. Now, his sentence is for 110 consecutive years in prison.
The crash ultimately killed four people. State minimums require the judge to sentence accordingly. Due to state minimums for the 27 charges brought against Aquilera-Menderos, his sentence does not offer much leeway. However, Rogel’s supporters say the punishment is far too harsh for the crime.
On April 25th, 2019, Rogel was driving through mountainous Colorado on I-70 when he barrelled into rush-hour traffic. The crash hit 4 semis and several other vehicles, causing a fireball explosion. Aguilera-Mederos is charged on 27 counts including vehicular manslaughter, two years later. The driver testified that although he takes responsibility for causing the crash, it was an accident. Aguilera-Mederos says that his brakes failed, and he did all he could to prevent the crash from being more fatal. Many of his supporters say that the trucking company is to blame due to the mechanical failure. However, others say that Mederos knew his brakes were going to fail and that he ignored warning signs and kept driving anyway.
Truckers Boycott Colorado in Response to Rogel’s Sentence
Truckers have organized a boycott in support of Aguilera-Mederos and in hopes of pushing Colorado governor Jared Polis to consider clemency for the driver. The movement is making waves on social media under the name ‘NO TRUCKS TO COLORADO’. Drivers are to avoid bringing their loads to Colorado until they believe justice has been served appropriately for the situation.
One CDL driver tweeted their support, writing, “We (Brown Eagle LLC) have joined the protest and are not getting any loads out of or to Colorado until Rogel gets justice cause 110 years is ridiculous. The company should be held accountable!”
However, Colorado Motor Carriers took to Twitter to offer clarity on what really happened the day of the crash. The account tweeted, “Not mech. failure – brakes gave way due to inexper. driver traveling in mtns above posted speeds/ not gearing down — overheated brakes gave way. He knew of hot brakes yet bypassed runaway truck ramp.”
One of Aguilera-Mederos’ lawyers, James Colgan says, “We’re not saying he’s innocent and didn’t make mistakes, [but] the punishment has to fit the crime and this punishment does not fit the crime.”
Petition Says the Time Does Not Fit the Crime
The driver showed remorse during his trial, pleading with the judge through tears. Mederos’ says it truly was an accident, and he never meant to harm anyone. Mederos told the judge, “I am not a criminal, I am not a murderer. The accident – it wasn’t intentional, it wasn’t intentional, Your Honor. I did all that I can as a man. I put myself in harm’s way to avoid harming anyone else.”
The change.org petition in support of Menderos echoes the same sentiment. A portion of the petition reads,
“This accident was not intentional, nor was it a criminal act on the driver’s part. No one but the trucking company he is/was employed by should be held accountable for this accident. We are trying to hold the person who needs to be held responsible, responsible. The trucking company has had several inspections since 2017, with several mechanical violations.”
The petition is currently one of the most popular on the site.