LAKEWOOD – Prosecutors have formally charged the man accused of causing the fiery crash on I-70 west of Denver that killed four people last week.
Rogel Lozaro Aguilera-Mederos, 23, faces four counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree assault, 24 counts of attempted first-degree assault, two counts of vehicular assault by reckless driving, one count of reckless driving, two counts of violent crime causing death of serious bodily injury and one count of violent crime using a weapon. Thirty-six of those counts are felonies.
The victims in the crash were identified as 61-year-old Doyle Harrison of Hudson, 67-year-old William Bailey of Arvada, Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano of Denver and 69-year-old Stanley Politano of Arvada. All victims were traveling in separate vehicles. Two others suffered serious injuries in the crash. For those victims, prosecutors decided to charge Aguilera-Mederos with six counts of first-degree assault.
“The allegations are that Mr. Aguilera under circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to the value of human life, knowingly engaged in conduct that created a grave risk of death or serious bodily injury,” said First Judicial District Attorney Pete Weir.
Weir said investigators determined that Aguilera-Mederos was traveling in excess of 85 mph in the right lane of EB I70 as he came down from Lookout Mountain. Investigators said he made the decision to swerve from a semi truck in the right lane and into dozens of vehicles caught in stop and go traffic from an earlier crash further to the east on the interstate.
Just one count of first-degree assault carries sentences that range in length from 10 to 32 years in prison. He’s facing six of those charges, as well as dozens of years in prison for the other felony charges.
“Potentially Mr. Aguilera could be looking at decades in the Department of Corrections,” Weir said.
Aguilera-Mederos is being held in the Jefferson County jail on a $400,000 bond.
The crash happened just before 5 p.m. in Lakewood on April 25. According to arrest documents, Aguilera-Mederos told investigators that his brakes had failed on his truck.
When asked if prosecutors would consider charging others, Weir declined to say whether his office would press charges against anyone associated with the trucking company Aguilera-Mederos worked for.
“We will look at anyone that might, in any way shape or form, be culpable or responsible for what happened,” Weir said.
According to the arrest affidavit, Aguilera-Mederos’ truck passed a sign advising drivers of a runaway ramp, which enables vehicles that are having braking problems to safely stop, 2,000 feet (609.6 meters) ahead and had a “free and unobstructed path” onto the ramp but instead swerved away from the ramp, which is located off the side of the highway.
Aguilera-Mederos told police that he tried to activate emergency brakes without success and that just before his truck hit other stopped vehicles he thought he was going to die so he “closed his eyes,” the affidavit says.
Aguilera-Mederos suffered minor injuries in the crash.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)