GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) — A truck driver accused of causing a fiery pileup that killed four people and injured six others on a Colorado highway has been convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges.
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera Mederos, 25, was convicted by a Jefferson County jury on Friday in connection with the April 2019 crash on Interstate 70 west of Denver, The Denver Post reported.
Aguilera Mederos testified that the brakes on his semitrailer failed before he plowed into vehicles that had slowed because of another wreck in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.
Prosecutors argued he could have used one of several runaway ramps as his truck barreled down from the mountains. The chain-reaction wreck ruptured gas tanks, causing flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the highway just after it descends from the mountains west of Denver.
Aguilera Mederos was found guilty of six counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree assault, 10 counts of attempted first-degree assault, six counts of careless driving, and one count of reckless driving. Jurors acquitted him of 15 additional counts of attempted first-degree assault.
Sentencing was set for Dec. 13. Aguilera Mederos faces decades in prison.
The truck carrying lumber was going at least 85 mph (137 kph) on a part of Interstate 70 where commercial vehicles are limited to 45 mph (72 kph) because of a steep descent from the Rocky Mountain foothills, according to investigators. The initial impact caused a 28-vehicle chain-reaction wreck that ruptured gas tanks, causing flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the highway just after it descends from the mountains.
Just before the crash, police said the truck traveled past a ramp on the side of the interstate that is designed to safely stop trucks and other vehicles that have lost their brakes.
Aguilera Mederos testified at trial that he tried to hit part of a parked 18-wheeler’s trailer to slow down and sought a space between traffic.