Driver in fatal I-70 Denver crash had mountain experience

January 11, 2022

Chuck Robinson

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It wasn’t his first trip through the mountains for Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. He is the driver initially sentenced to 110 years in prison because in April 2019 the tractor-trailer he was driving plowed into backed-up traffic on I-70 in the Denver area.

Aguilera-Mederos said through an interpreter that he had driven in mountains before the 2019 collision in a more than two hour interview with police shortly after the crash. A video of part of the interview has been published by FOX31 TV in Denver.

Aguilera-Mederos was convicted of vehicular homicide and other charges in October 2021 of driving his tractor-trailer into traffic stopped for a previous collision. Four people were killed. He was sentenced Dec. 13 to the mandatory minimum term according to state law. On Dec. 30, Gov. Jared Polis granted commuted his sentence to 10 years, preempting a resentencing hearing scheduled for Jan. 13. Aguilera-Mederos will be eligible parole on Dec. 30, 2026.

Aguilera-Mederos in the interview said he had driven Colorado three times and also had driven in mountainous terrain in Utah, Montana and Washington state.

He had driven on I-70 three or four times, Aguilera-Mederos said through the interpreter, and detoured on this trip to I-70 so he could fill up on diesel.

His truck was traveling at more than 80 mph when it crashed into stopped vehicles, he told investigators. He said he had seen the runaway truck ramp signs as his truck barreled past them but hadn’t seen the actual ramp.

Aguilera-Mederos’ former employer

Aguilera-Mederos is a U.S. resident from Cuba who had a commercial driver’s license from Texas. He was driving for Castellano 03Trucking LLC, Houston, pulling a flatbed trailer of lumber when the 2019 collision happened.

According to online Texas state records, Castellano 03 Trucking went out of business shortly after the 2019 crash, and another company came into being with the same ownership or management members.

Insurance was canceled for Castellano 03 Trucking, operating under U.S. DOT number 3029296 and motor carrier number 38540, on June 2, 2019, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Licensing and Insurance online information. The company was out of business on Sept. 15, 2019.

Yaimy Galan was listed as managing member of Castellano 03 Trucking. A similar name, Yaimy Gala Segura, was listed as owner of Castellano in a March 15, 2018, according to a Texas franchise public information report.

Yaimy Galan also was identified in a 2019 lawsuit brought by KKW Trucking Inc. against Castellano 03Trucking.

Pomona, Calif-based KKW Trucking had a driver and tractor-trailer in the backed-up traffic struck by Aguilera-Mederos’ truck. The KKW truck was engulfed in fire, according to a court document.

KKW won summary judgement on three of four claims. In November 2020, it was awarded $97,723.81 in damages associated with the replacement cost of its tractor-trailer, the value of its lost cargo, and the worker’s compensation benefits paid to the driver. An attorney for KKW reported that Castellano had leased trucks and had no assets to allow the award to be collected. LL

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Chuck Robinson formerly was senior copy editor for a weekly trade publication serving the fresh produce industry. He has served trade publications, horticultural journals and community newspapers for 25 years.