JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. – The 23-year-old semi driver accused of causing a fiery crash on Interstate 70 that killed four people and left many others injured bonded out of jail Saturday night.
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos was charged with four counts of vehicular homicide by reckless driving, six counts of first-degree assault and 24 counts of attempted first-degree assault earlier this month.
His bond was set at $400,000.
On April 25, Aguilera-Mederos was driving a semi carrying lumber in the eastbound lanes of I-70 in Lakewood. The speed in this area for a commercial vehicle is 45 mph, but Aguilera-Mederos was estimated to be traveling faster than 85 mph.
An arrest affidavit states Aguilera-Mederos told police through a translator that he lost control of the vehicle after noticing his brakes were failing and, in order to avoid driving off the road for fear of rolling the semi, he maneuvered the truck to the right shoulder to avoid stopped traffic. However, when he saw that the shoulder was blocked by another semi, he swerved back into lanes of slow stop-and-go traffic from a previous crash at I-70 and Ward Road and closed his eyes before the fiery crash near Colorado Mills Parkway. Authorities said 28 vehicles were involved, including four semis.
Aguilera-Mederos was working for the Houston-based trucking company Castellano 03 Trucking LLC at the time of the crash. Over the past two years, the company has had 30 violations, including problems with brakes and a weak grasp of English, according to federal records. Twice in 2018, the drivers of one of the fleet’s trucks was found in violation of the rule that requires drivers to understand highway traffic signs and signals in English.
One of those violations read, “Driver cannot read or speak the English language sufficiently to respond to official inquiries.”
First Judicial District Attorney Pete Weir said earlier this month the semi Aguilera-Mederos was driving was completely destroyed in the crash and fire, so authorities are not in a position to inspect it to see if the brakes were not working. However, there are other means that they can determine if the brakes had caused the crash, he said, though he did not elaborate.
Aguilera-Mederos has a scheduled preliminary hearing on July 11.