Charges Filed Against Truck Driver In Deadly I-70 Pileup

Photo: I-70 Truck Wreck Aftermath 2 AP 20190429
What remains of a semi-tractor and trailer are carried away as workers clear debris from the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 on Friday, April 26, 2019, in Lakewood, Colo., after a deadly pileup involving semi-truck hauling lumber on Thursday. Lakewood police spokesman John Romero described it as a chain reaction of crashes and explosions from ruptured gas tanks. "It was crash, crash, crash and explosion, explosion, explosion," he said.

The 23-year-old truck driver accused of causing a fiery interstate pileup that killed four people in Colorado has been formally charged with four counts of vehicular homicide.

Jefferson County District Attorney Pete Weir announced Friday a total of 40 charges against Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos of Houston.

"Potentially, Mr. Aguilera could be looking at decades in the Department of Corrections," Weir said.

The charges against Aguilera-Mederos also include six counts of first-degree assault and 24 counts of attempted first-degree assault.

"The number of counts reflects the magnitude of the incident and the number of people that were hurt or could have been hurt as a result of his actions," Weir said. "The charges that are filed reflect individual victims. There is a relationship between each count that was filed and a separate individual that either died, was seriously hurt or was placed in extraordinary risk of serious bodily injury or death."

The crash occurred April 25 on Interstate 70 just after it descends from the mountains west of Denver. The pileup involved 28 vehicles and multiple explosions. Besides the four killed, six others were injured.

"In my almost three and a half decades in the city of Lakewood, I've never seen anything like this," said Lakewood Police Chief Police Dan McCasky. "It has really devastated our community. We have never had a crash of this magnitude."

Aguilera-Mederos, who is being held on $400,000 bond, told investigators the brakes on his semitrailer failed.

"We filed charges based upon our belief that Mr. Aguilera acted with extreme indifference," Weir said. "He was driving at an excessive rate of speed, over 80-85 miles an hour, driving recklessly and shifting lanes."

The speed limit for commercial vehicles was 45 miles per hour in the area of the crash.

His lawyer declined immediate comment Friday but said previously that the crash was an accident.

According to prosecutors, the truck Aguilera drove was completely destroyed so a mechanical investigation was not possible.

Read More: Brake Issues Have Plagued The Company That Owned The Truck Involved In Fatal I-70 Crash