Trial begins for Texas trucker charged in fiery I-70 crash

Prosecutors say bad decisions to blame for deadly pile-up

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 10/1/21

Opening statements in the trial for Rogel Aguilera-Maderos, the truck driver charged in a deadly crash that killed four people on eastbound I-70 in 2019, got underway Sept. 28. Aguilera-Maderos, …

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Trial begins for Texas trucker charged in fiery I-70 crash

Prosecutors say bad decisions to blame for deadly pile-up

Posted

Opening statements in the trial for Rogel Aguilera-Maderos, the truck driver charged in a deadly crash that killed four people on eastbound I-70 in 2019, got underway Sept. 28.

Aguilera-Maderos, facing a total of 41 counts, including vehicular homicide, had previously plead not-guilty to all charges. He was hauling a load of lumber from Wyoming to Texas when the crash occurred.

In opening arguments, prosecutors laid the blame for the April 25, 2019, accident on bad decisions made by Aguilera-Maderos.

Both sides agree that brake failure caused the accident, but prosecutors pointed to video footage captured by other drivers of Aguilera-Maderos’ driving before the accident happened, as evidence that the deadly crash could have been averted. Describing the video, Prosecutor Kayla Wildeman said it shows the driver weaving through traffic at a high rate of speed, driving right by a runaway truck ramp.

“Four lives in our community were lost because of what this case boils down to — bad decisions,” Wildeman said.

Wildeman said Aguilera-Maderos had been driving recklessly hours before the crash and knew his brakes weren’t functioning properly. She said aside from the emergency ramp he passed, Aguilera-Maderos could have driven into a field beside the freeway or tried other ways of slowing the runaway semi down, but chose not to.

Defense attorney James Colgan argued that his client tried to apply his brakes, but when they failed to work, Aguilera-Maderos found himself in a fast-moving vehicle that was out of control.

“He could not control this vehicle. He wasn’t driving it. No one was capable of driving it at this point,” Colgan said.

As the speeding truck careened eastbound on I-70 it ran into rush-hour traffic backed-up to a standstill near Colorado Mills Mall. The impact of the crash caused an explosion turning the scene into a fiery inferno, engulfing cars in flames and killing Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24, William Bailey, 67, Doyle Harrison, 61, and Stanley Politano, 69. Six others were injured and a total of 28 vehicles were destroyed in the crash.

Prosecutors say after the crash, Aguilera-Maderos ran from the scene instead of trying to help those caught in the blaze.

The trial is expected to last until mid-October. The newspaper will continue to follow the case through its conclusion.

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