Colorado trucker in deadly pileup gets 110 years, gets emotional at sentencing

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I have mixed emotions about this whole case. Although not personally verified by me, I saw reports that indicated he knew the trailer brakes didn’t work when he picked the trailer and load up. On almost any semi truck or trailer built in the last 30 years or more the brakes are a fail safe design. Spring pressure mechanically applies them and air pressure releases them. If they weren’t working then they were totally out of adjustment or had been caged. At the most basic level the driver is responsible for a thorough pre trip inspection to ensure that it is safe to travel or not operate it. I wish I could have heard the testimony from him and people who knew the details. I still have questions.
 
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I have mixed emotions about this whole case. Although not personally verified by me, I saw reports that indicated he knew the trailer brakes didn’t work when he picked the trailer and load up. On almost any semi truck or trailer built in the last 30 years or more the brakes are a fail safe design. Spring pressure mechanically applies them and air pressure releases them. If they weren’t working then they were totally out of adjustment or had been caged. At the most basic level the driver is responsible for a thorough pre trip inspection to ensure that it is safe to travel or not operate it. I wish I could have heard the testimony from him and people who knew the details. I still have questions.

At the very least he couldn't seem to get it into a low gear to at least slow it down. He said he was struggling to get it into low gear and I think he gave up and just coasted instead.

“When you lost your brakes, your mind is blocking.”​
At speeds up to 85 mph and no brakes, he testified he struggled with the gears, “Any, any that would shift the gear in order to stop the truck.”​
 
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I also don't know all the details, but no matter what he did/didn't, know it was passive irresponsibility so more than a decade or two incarceration seems inhumane. Then again, some feel punishment should be a deterrent to society, and that's a tougher call to make.

As tough as it seems, I don't feel like the # of lives lost were on his mind, nor should be relevant in the sentence. That doesn't, magically change this tragedy, but rather that I don't think there was any intention to mass murder, and a lot of people making similar VERY BAD decisions don't end up with this harsh a penalty so it should be based on the acts not the outcome.

It's a slippery slope. If we try to get in the head of everyone, then anyone merely speeding is already guilty of endangering others.

Ironically, I even agree with that to some extent. If you speed, you are disregarding the safety of others, IF going faster than the traffic around you. If you adhere to the speed limit and the result is impeding traffic, not so much.
 
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10 years is not enough for criminal wanton negligence causing four deaths. He did so many things wrong, had so many chances to slow down and still proceeded on his merry way. He was offered a plea deal and could not take responsibility after killing four people. 110 years was fine with me.
 
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Even 10 years seems harsh. It’s very easy for someone to say “You should have done ______.” after the fact.

In 2018, there was a somewhat local tragedy where a lady drove passed a stopped school bus. She killed 3 siblings all no older than 10. Initially, I think she only got something like 4 years, but I think they are working on getting her out earlier. I believe the goal was before Christmas. It’s hard to say what’s right or wrong.

Both were tragic accidents.
 
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At the very least he couldn't seem to get it into a low gear to at least slow it down. He said he was struggling to get it into low gear and I think he gave up and just coasted instead.

“When you lost your brakes, your mind is blocking.”​
At speeds up to 85 mph and no brakes, he testified he struggled with the gears, “Any, any that would shift the gear in order to stop the truck.”​

If just coasting, I would expect the speed to get well above 85 mph? The bus I drive is a lot lighter (42,000 pounds fully loaded) and picks up speed incredibly fast when coasting even a small decline. You got to stay on top of it.
 
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Even 10 years seems harsh. It’s very easy for someone to say “You should have done ______.” after the fact.

In 2018, there was a somewhat local tragedy where a lady drove passed a stopped school bus. She killed 3 siblings all no older than 10. Initially, I think she only got something like 4 years, but I think they are working on getting her out earlier. I believe the goal was before Christmas. It’s hard to say what’s right or wrong.

Both were tragic accidents.

When you drive past a stopped school bus you can expect children on the road. She had a couple of choices, stay behind, drive past slowly or drive past fast... it's being stupid or negligent.
 
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When you drive past a stopped school bus you can expect children on the road. She had a couple of choices, stay behind, drive past slowly or drive past fast... it's being stupid or negligent.
Her response was that she didn’t know it was a school bus. Stupid and negligent yes, but an accident nonetheless. Had she known it was a bus, she would have stopped.
 
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Does anyone think the publicized protest of ceasing all truck deliveries to the entire state of Colorado was factored into any decision making here?

I caught a bit of a radio news highlight which mentioned this.
 
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10 years isn't enough. 110 years was too much.
I'd sure like to see some 110 year sentences for all the repeat offenders who are doing the smash and grab robberies at retail stores though.
 
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Does anyone think the publicized protest of ceasing all truck deliveries to the entire state of Colorado was factored into any decision making here?

I caught a bit of a radio news highlight which mentioned this.

No. A reduction of the sentence was in the works on multiple fronts nearly immediately after the sentence was announced. Both the Governor and the prosecutor had initiated processes to reduce the sentence.

The sentence was dictated by Colorado State Law. The Judge was bound by the law, and the prosecutor tried the crimes the driver committed. The net result was what many folks felt was too much.

I have zero issue with this driver spending 10 years behind bars. Carrying and driving a CDL comes with a high level of responsibility, which this driver failed at and the net result is 4 people died. It is NOT like one mistake was made here - there were many, many poor decisions made here.
 
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Yes...

He could....

And I actually agree with that.

Just like that young lady I knew who killed 4 young guys.... She was 18 when that happened by the way.

Still... There must be a significant prison term for having been responsible for 4 people dying.

15 months is too little in my opinion. 5 years is too little in my opinion too.

8-15 years. . Actual real time served... Ok. I'm an all right with that.

I say this from a background of having my own father drive so drunk he was going off into the ditches... He did that many, many, many, many, many, times. It's amazing how he never had a major accident.

If my father had killed someone while drunk driving.... I would have wanted him punished as well.

He would have deserved what he got for doing that.

It scared the beegeezees out if me when I was 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years old and he was driving like that.
I don't know all the facts about this case. I did read that he was weaving and tailgating and driving recklessly before the horrible crash but don't know if that was before or after his brakes failed. From what I do know, 10 years sounds reasonable. My former brother in law killed someone while he was driving drunk and he got/served about 4 or 5 years.
 
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Even 10 years seems harsh. It’s very easy for someone to say “You should have done ______.” after the fact.

In 2018, there was a somewhat local tragedy where a lady drove passed a stopped school bus. She killed 3 siblings all no older than 10. Initially, I think she only got something like 4 years, but I think they are working on getting her out earlier. I believe the goal was before Christmas. It’s hard to say what’s right or wrong.

Both were tragic accidents.
The judge said no early release. She is scheduled to be released in March.

I tell my kids all the time. Drive slow through neighborhoods and when kids are around. My old boss hit a kid when he was 17 years old and delivering prescriptions for the local pharmacy. Luckily, the kid was ok.
 
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The Governor granted clemency and commuted the sentence to 10 years.

The Governor also granted commutations to Ronald Johnson, Nicholas Wells, and Rogel Aguilera-Mederos. Mr. Johnson is granted parole effective January 15, 2022, with terms and conditions of parole to be set by the Parole Board. Mr. Wells is parole eligible on January 15, 2022. Mr. Aguilera-Mederos’ sentence is reduced to 10 years.​
governor-polis-clemency-letters-2021.pdf
That means that this young man will have a second chance at his life.

I may not feel the same as everyone else about this but I believe that that was the right thing to do.
 
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That means that this young man will have a second chance at his life.

I may not feel the same as everyone else about this but I believe that that was the right thing to do.

I don't believe there's any controversy over whether or not 110 years was excessive. The main controversy is over whether or not the commutation to 10 years (and parole eligibility in 2026 I believe) is too little. It was still extreme negligence where a driver is absolutely responsible to at least know how to put it in gear if the brakes are gone.

If it was commuted to 20-25 years (with parole eligibility) I'm not sure there's as much outrage that he got off easy.
 
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A lot of y’all are commenting that 10 years is not enough.

Have you ever sat in a jail cell before?

1 year is a LONG time in prison.

10 years in prison is a virtual eternity.

Now before you get all up in arms, I’m very much in support of long prison sentences for violent, heinous crimes, as I’ve stated in other threads.

This was negligence. Not a violent, heinous crime.
 
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A lot of y’all are commenting that 10 years is not enough.

Have you ever sat in a jail cell before?

1 year is a LONG time in prison.

10 years in prison is a virtual eternity.

Now before you get all up in arms, I’m very much in support of long prison sentences for violent, heinous crimes, as I’ve stated in other threads.

This was negligence. Not a violent, heinous crime.

Depends on where he ends up. At a modern, minimum security prison it's more a matter of how ridiculously boring it is. But a medium to high security prison with hardened criminals is way different. And he'll be in state prison rather than federal prison, which may or may not be worse.

There's the possibility that he ends up in home confinement, but I'm not sure how he would pay for it without a job or extensive savings. And on top of that he'll probably be deported once his sentence is served.
 
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