GOLDEN, Colo. (AP) – A truck driver accused of causing a flaming pile-up that killed four people and injured six others on a Colorado highway has been convicted of homicide and other charges.
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera Mederos, 25, was convicted Friday by a Jefferson County jury 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 tractor-trailer failed before he entered vehicles that had slowed down due to another wreck in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.
Prosecutors argued that he could have used one of the many escape ramps as his truck descended from the mountains. The chain reaction wreckage ruptured gasoline tanks, causing flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the freeway just after it descended from the mountains west of Denver.
Aguilera Mederos was convicted of six counts of homicide and driving, six counts of first degree assault, 10 counts of attempted first degree assault, six counts of reckless driving and one count of reckless driving. Jurors acquitted him of 15 additional counts of attempted first degree assault.
Sentencing was set for December 13. Aguilera Mederos faces decades in prison.
The lumber truck was traveling at least 85 mph (137 km / h) on part of Interstate 70 where commercial vehicles are limited to 45 mph (72 km / h) due to a steep descent from the foothills of the Rockies, according to investigators. The initial impact caused a chain reaction of 28 vehicles that ruptured gasoline tanks, sparking flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the highway just after it descended from the mountains.
Just before the crash, police said the truck passed a ramp on the side of the freeway designed to safely stop trucks and other vehicles that lost their brakes.
Aguilera Mederos testified at trial that he attempted to hit part of the trailer of an 18-wheeler parked to slow down and looked for space between traffic.