Colorado trucker in deadly pileup gets 110 years, gets emotional at sentencing

The chain-reaction wreck in Colorado ruptured gas tanks, causing flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the highway

The Colorado truck driver involved in a pileup that killed four and injured six on an interstate in 2019 got emotional when he addressed the court before receiving a sentence of 110 years in prison.

Rogel Aguilera-Medros, 26, who was convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges, testified that he tried to slam on the brakes to stop his semitrailer hauling lumber on April 25, 2019, but said they failed. Prosecutors focused on his decision not to take any runaway truck ramps while traveling about 85 mph on Interstate 70 west of Denver.

The chain-reaction wreck ruptured gas tanks, causing flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the highway. Those killed were Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24; William Bailey, 67; Doyle Harrison, 61; and Stanley Politano, 69.

Workers clear debris from the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 on April 26, 2019, in Lakewood, Colorado, following a deadly pileup involving a semi-truck hauling lumber. 

Workers clear debris from the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 on April 26, 2019, in Lakewood, Colorado, following a deadly pileup involving a semi-truck hauling lumber.  (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

He teared up while addressing the court at sentencing and asked the families of the victims to forgive him.

"I am not a criminal," he said. "I am not a murderer. I am not a killer. When I look at my charges, we are talking about a murderer, which is not me. I have never thought about hurting anybody in my entire life."

Lakewood Police Department photo shows Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. Aguilera-Mederos, who was convicted in October 2021 of causing a fiery pileup that killed four people and injured six others on Interstate 70 west of Denver. (Lakewood Police Department via AP, File)

Lakewood Police Department photo shows Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. Aguilera-Mederos, who was convicted in October 2021 of causing a fiery pileup that killed four people and injured six others on Interstate 70 west of Denver. (Lakewood Police Department via AP, File)

District Court Judge Bruce Jones imposed the sentence after finding it was the mandatory minimum term under state law, The Denver Post reported.

"I will state that if I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence," the judge said.

CBS Denver reported that lawyers for the 26-year-old said there is case law that would allow for a sentence of 20 years. Jones disagreed but opened the door for a review.

The crash occurred while Aguilera-Medros was on a part of the interstate where commercial vehicles are limited to 45 mph because of a steep descent from the Rocky Mountain foothills, according to investigators. The initial impact caused a 28-vehicle chain-reaction wreck.

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"I accept and respect what the defendant has said about his lack of intent to hurt people, but he made a series of terrible decisions, reckless decisions," the judge said, according to the report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report