I-70 open again after fatal crash

Four dead in crash involving dozens of vehicles April 25

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A major vehicle crash on eastbound I-70 near the Denver West exit resulted in multiple deaths and caused a fire that closed the freeway in both directions the afternoon of April 25 at about 4:50 p.m. 

The Lakewood Police Department is reporting 28 vehicles, including four semi trucks, were involved in the crash, resulting in four fatalities and six injuries.

MORE: Eyewitness - "It was like a scene out of a movie"

The morning of April 26, the police department said the driver of a semi that was involved in the crash, Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, 23, had been taken into custody on suspicion of four counts of vehicular homicide. Days later the Jefferson County Coroner's office named Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24, of Denver, Doyle Harrison, 61, of Denver, Stanley Politano, 69, of Arvada and William Bailey, 67, of Arvada as the four victims of the crash.

According to the Jefferson County District Attorney's office, the driver is currently in the county jail with a $400,000 bond, awaiting formal charges.

“The number one focus of the investigation is to fully investigate this crash and bring justice to these families," said Lakewood Police Department Investigator John Romero.

Lakewood Police Department Agent Ty Countryman said that a semi truck "came down and ended up colliding with slower traffic, causing a very big chain reaction." 

An earlier traffic accident further to the east had backed up traffic, and may have contributed to the crash, according to Countryman.

The DA's office says Aguilera-Mederos is a legal U.S. resident and holds a commercial drivers license from Texas.

Countryman added that investigators do not believe alcohol or drugs were factors in the crash. Mechanical issues with the truck is still being investigated as a potential cause. 

"For truckers, keep control of your vehicles. Without control it doesn’t matter if it’s a fully loaded vehicle or a hatchback, you’re still responsible,” said Countryman.

After the vehicles collided, fire broke out, fed by wood logs carried by one of the semi trucks, sending a dark column of smoke into the sky. Eyewitnesses said the semi barreled down the right shoulder of the freeway to avoid some vehicles, before the crash.

West Metro Fire was one of the agencies that responded to the scene. Spokesperson Ronda Sholting said that one West Metro firefighter suffered a minor injury after a tire exploded near him, causing minor injuries. Sholting said the firefighter was at back home and recuperating the following day. 

I-70 remained closed in both directions until Friday afternoon, when CDOT opened the westbound lanes. The eastbound lanes reopened on Saturday after crews finished repaving the section of roadway most damaged by the crash and fire.

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