More than 3.6 million people have called for leniency for a truck driver who was sentences to a 110 year jail term this week after causing a fiery pile-up which killed four people and injured six others in the US state of Colorado.
In April 2019, the truck Rogel Aguilera-Mederos was driving lost its brakes, according to CBS Denver.
As he careened down a mountain, he passed one of the state's runaway truck ramps – a detail prosecutors focused heavily on during his trial.
In the end, the 26-year-old truckie was sentenced Monday (local time) to more than a century in prison after the judge found it was the mandatory minimum term set forth under state law.
Aguilera-Mederos had been convicted of 27 counts, including vehicular homicide.
"I will state that if I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence," the judge said.
By Friday (local time), more than three and a half million people had signed a petition on Change.org asking for some legal reprieve for the young man.
"We are not trying to make it seem any less of a tragic accident that it is because yes, lives were lost," wrote Heather Gilbee, the author of the petition.
Aguilera-Mederos was convicted in October of vehicular homicide and other charges stemming from the April 25, 2019, crash. He testified that the brakes on his semitrailer failed before he plowed into vehicles that had slowed because of another wreck in the Denver suburb of Lakewood.
But prosecutors argued he could have used one of several runaway ramps as his truck barreled down from the mountains. The chain-reaction wreck ruptured gas tanks, causing flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the highway.
A jury convicted Aguilera-Mederos of four counts of vehicular homicide, six counts of first-degree assault, 10 counts of attempted first-degree assault, four counts of careless driving causing death, two counts of vehicular assault and one count of reckless driving.
Aguilera-Mederos, who was hauling lumber, was traveling at least 137 km/h on a part of the interstate where commercial vehicles are limited to 72 km/h because of a steep descent from the Rocky Mountain foothills, according to investigators.
Police said that just before the crash, the truck traveled past a ramp on the side of the interstate that is designed to safely stop trucks and other vehicles that have lost their brakes.
Aguilera-Mederos wept as he spoke during the sentencing, apologising to the families of the victims and asking for their forgiveness.
“I am not a criminal,” he said. “I am not a murderer. I am not a killer. When I look at my charges, we are talking about a murderer, which is not me. I have never thought about hurting anybody in my entire life.”
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