DA lays 40 charges on driver of deadly I-70 crash

The crash resulted in the death of four people and injured four others

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Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, the truck driver accused of causing the deadly I-70 crash, was charged with 40 counts on May 3, including four counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree assault and 24 counts of attempted first-degree assault.

“The charges that are filed reflect individual victims that were put at risk as a result of the actions of (Aguilera-Mederos). So, there's a relationship between each count and a separate individual that either died, was seriously hurt or was placed in extraordinary risk of serious bodily injury, or death,” said Peter Weir, district attorney for the First Judicial District, which covers Jefferson and Gilpin counties.

Aguilera-Mederos appeared in court via video from the Jefferson County jail as he was advised of his charges. Some of his family members were in attendance and left the courtroom crying and holding each other. He's being held on a $400,000 bond and is facing “decades” in prison, according to Weir.

Aguilera-Mederos is scheduled to appear in court July 11 for his preliminary hearing.

Lakewood Police were notified of a multiple car crash in the eastbound lanes of I-70 at Denver West Parkway on April 25. According to an affidavit, police located a large fire engulfing around 28 vehicles. Aguilera-Medros was allegedly driving a semi-tractor and trailer eastbound on I-70 and lost control. Police believe he was driving 85 miles per hour when he crashed into stopped vehicles near Colorado Mills Parkway after passing “runaway truck ramp” signs.

MORE: Crash "was like a scene out of the movies"

The crash resulted in the deaths of Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24, of Denver; Doyle Harrison, 61, of Denver; Stanley Politano, 69, of Arvada; and William Bailey, 67, of Arvada. Four others were also injured from the crash.

“I do not think we have ever investigated an accident like this in my almost three and a half decades in law enforcement. I've never seen anything like this,” said Lakewood Chief of Police Dan McCasky. “I've never seen an impact that an accident has had on a community as well. It really devastated our community.”

A history of brake failure

Aguilera-Mederos was employed by Castellano 03 Trucking, a Houston-based trucking company. According to safety records, the company has had two of its five trucks taken out of service due to brake related issues this past year. Castellano 03 Trucking's out of service rate is 23.1 percent, compared to a national average of 20.7 percent.

Aguilera-Mederos told Lakewood Police he tried to brake, but noticed his brakes were not functioning, according to the affidavit.

“(Aguilera-Mederos' truck) was completely destroyed, so it's not in a position to have a mechanical inspection done. There will be other means by which hopefully we can determine whether or not the brakes were the cause of the accident,” said Weir.

Safety records also revealed that the trucking company has had two driver violations for not being able to read, or speak English enough to respond to official inquires and for not being able to understand highway traffic signs and signals.

The trucking company did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

It is uncertain whether Aguilera-Mederos was one of the drivers cited for not knowing English well enough to read highway signs, or if his truck had been one of those with a recent brake problem.

Weir confirmed that a translator was present during interviews with Aguilera-Mederos. A translator was also sitting with Aguilera-Mederos while he was being advised of his charges.

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