GOLDEN, Colo — Social media is currently on fire with calls for truckers to boycott Colorado after a former trucker received 110 years in prison for a crash that killed four people in 2019.
The sentence, many contend, was far too much.
Rogel Lazaro Aguilera Mederos, 25, was convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges by a Jefferson County jury on Oct. 15 in connection with the April 2019 crash on Interstate 70 west of Denver, The Denver Post reported.
During his sentencing on Dec. 13, Aguilera Mederos reportedly wept and said he can’t sleep and thinks about the victims “all the time.” He also said he wasn’t a criminal.
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.
In response to the brewing boycott, which has taken on the hashtag #NoTrucksToColorado, the Colorado Motor Carriers issued the following statement on Twitter: “Feel for driver. #NoTrucksToColorado has some info that is not accurate. Not mech. failure – brakes gave way due to inexper. driver traveling in mtns above posted speeds/ not gearing down — overheated brakes gave way. He knew of hot brakes yet bypassed runaway truck ramp.”
Twitter user @Not_YouFatJesus said in support of Aguilera Mederos: “It makes me happy to see truckers standing up for the 26 year old Latino who got 110 years. That’s a ridiculous sentence for what was obviously an accident. Meanwhile you have privileged yt boys getting no jail time for pre-planned murders #NoTrucksToColorado”
Twitter user @AOrtega_80 said that he and his brother “have decided that we (Brown Eagle LLC) have joined the protest and are not getting any loads out of or to Colorado until Rogel gets justice cause 110 years is ridiculous. The company should be held accountable!”
Swirls of misinformation are also appearing on TikTok and other social media platforms. A photo that purportedly showed 18-wheelers backed up for miles on a Colorado interstate in response to the Aguilera Mederos boycott was misrepresented. The trucks were gridlocked because of icy weather.
And there are many who are calling out the boycott as unnecessary.
“I suggest truckers and new truckers take every load available going to and from Colorado,” Twitter user @JamesonTaj wrote. “There’s a strike of #notruckstocolorado and it’s the perfect time to make extra money for the holidays. Let them protest for their criminal and let us make money #colorado #rogelaguilera”
A petition to free Aguilera Mederos has appeared on the website change.org.
Posted by Heather Gilbee, the petition reads: “We all know of the crash that happened on I-70 in Denver, Colorado. Most of us have heard facts in the case. Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, 23 has nothing on his driving record, or on his criminal history. He had complied with every single request by the Jefferson County courts, and investigators on the case. Hes passed all of the drug and alcohol tests that were given including a chemical test.
“This accident was not intentional, nor was it a criminal act on the drivers part. No one but the trucking company he is/was employed by should be held accountable for this accident. No, we are not trying to make it seem any less of a tragic accident that it is because yes, lives were lost. We are trying to hold the person who needs to be held responsible, responsible. The trucking company has had several inspections since 2017, with several mechanical violations.
“There are many things Rogel could have done to avoid the courts, but he took responsibility showed up and severely apologized to the victims families. Some of the families even offered Forgiveness. Rogel is not a criminal, the company he was working for knew the federal laws that go into truck driving but they failed to follow those laws. Rogel has said several times that he wishes he had the courage to crash and take his own life that day, this tragic accident wasn’t done with Intent, it wasn’t a criminal act, it was an accident. Since he has been sentenced, i have changed this to granting Rogel clemency or commutation-as time served.”
So far, more than 2.7 million people have signed the petition.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.