Things That Matter

Here’s Why Many Are Upset About the Sentence Given to a Cuban Truck Driver Involved in Accidental Fatal Crash

A tragic accident that happened on a Colorado highway back in 2019 is once again back in the headlines after the man responsible for the deadly crash was sentenced this week. Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was sentenced to 110 years in prison for his role in the crash that left four people dead.

Many across the country, including many within the Cuban-American community, are expressing their disappointment in the justice system and are working to help support Aguilera-Mederos as his case works its way through the appeals process.

Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was sentenced to 110 years in prison for an accidental crash that left four people dead.

Aguilera-Mederos was the driver of a semi-truck that plowed into stopped traffic on the I-70 in Colorado two years ago, killing four people and injuring several more. On Wednesday, a Colorado judge sentenced him to 110 years in prison.

According to Aguilera-Mederos, it was a terrible accident as he had lost control of his truck, saying that his brakes failed on the downhill grade on I-70 before he crashed into the cars that were stopped because of another accident. Four Coloradans — Doyle Harrison, 61; William Bailey, 67; Stanley Politano, 69; and Miguel Lamas Arrellano, 24 — died in the crash.

Since his was charged back in 2019, Aguilera-Mederos has expressed his extreme remorse for what happened. In fact, during his sentencing he addressed the judge, saying he never meant to hurt anyone.

“It’s hard to live with this trauma. I can’t sleep, I’m thinking all the time about the victims,” he said. “… This was a terrible accident, I know. I take the responsibility. But I’m not a criminal.”

Kathleen Harrison, whose husband, Doyle Harrison, died in the crash, said that she believes that Aguilera-Mederos did not mean to kill anyone that day, but that a combination of decisions led to it, from reckless driving and, crucially, failing to take the runaway ramp and driving into traffic that was stopped.

Thanks to Colorado’s minimum sentencing laws, the judge says his hands were tied.

The judge overseeing the driver’s sentencing said his hands were tied by Colorado state law that required him to sentence truck driver Aguilera-Mederos to consecutive sentences, meaning they are served back-to-back.

“If I had the discretion, if I thought I had the discretion, I would not run those sentences consecutively,” Jones said.

Many took to social media to express their disgust with America’s justice system that forces men like Aguilera-Mederos to die in prison while perpetrators of extreme violence often get off thanks to archaic gun laws.

Few have been as open with their shock as Miami radio host Enrique Santos.

Cuban-American radio host Enrique Santos has been vocal in his opposition to the tough sentence handed down to Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. In a recent Instagram post, the host said he was feeling “shocked” by the sentence.

“I am in shock at the excessive sentencing of Cuban truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos in Colorado. His brakes FAILED. It was not intentional. It was an ACCIDENT. Rogel is NOT a criminal.”

Santos went on to say in the same post that, “They say he was reckless for not taking an emergency lane (Runaway Truck Ramp) after he realized that his brakes were not working. My question is for the truckers… what other option did he have? This has to be reevaluated. I have faith in the appeals and that the sentence will be reduced. 110 years for an unintentional accident is excessive.”

Even Cuban boxer Yordenis Ugás is urging his fans to find ways to support Rogel through the appeals process.

On Instagram, Cuban fighting legend Yordanis Ugás came out against the heavy sentence handed down to the Aguilera-Mederos, saying that it was an excessive penalty. He went on to urge Cubans residing in the U.S. to find ways to help the young man.

“As a community we should be more united and demonstrate more power. This is a case that deserves our attention and our complaint.”

The boxer adds that Aguilera-Mederos is a “man doing decent work,” and said that the man deserves a second chance.

In fact, soon after the sentence was handed down there was already a Change.org petition created.

The Change.org petition asks Colorado’s Governor Jared Polis to commute Aguilera-Mederos’s sentence so that he can leave prison a free man for the two years that he’s already spent behind bars, or grant him clemency. The petition already has 416,000 signatures and is quickly headed towards its half a million goal.

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