Can Trucker In I-70 Crash Read And Speak English? His Friends Weigh In
Denver, Colorado – Friends of the trucker accused of “reckless” actions leading to a horrific 28-vehicle crash along I-70 last Thursday, which cost the lives of four people, are now speaking out and coming to his defense.
Cuban-born truck driver Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos is expected to face four counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of vehicular assault when he appears again in court on Friday, May 4.
Investigators found that Mederos had a “free and unobstructed” path to a runaway ramp on the right side of I-70 just minutes from the fatal scene, but failed to take it even though it was “clearly marked.”
These findings, along with the facts that Mederos utilized the services of a translator both during his interview with police and at his court appearance last Saturday, have led many to question if the truck driver has a firm enough grasp on the English language to be operating a commercial motor vehicle.
Federal law states that “a motor carrier shall not require or permit a person to drive a commercial motor vehicle” unless that person:
“Can read and speak the English language sufficiently to converse with the general public, to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language, to respond to official inquiries, and to make entries on reports and records.”
Friends Of Mederos Speak Out On His Behalf
According to a new report by Fox31 in Denver, friends of Mederos say he has no problems reading or speaking English.
Aliet Diaz is a close friend to Mederos. Her husband just returned home to Texas after visiting him in jail.
Diaz says it wasn’t that Mederos couldn’t understand English that led to the crash.
“People say why didn’t he do this? Or that? But in that moment, you don’t think,” she told Fox31.
Heidy Perez grew up with Mederos as they are both from the same small town in Cuba.
She told the local news outlet, “I know he’s a good guy. I know he’s innocent. I believe in God so I believe God knows the truth.”
Was Mederos Previously Cited For Not Being Able To Understand Highway Traffic Signs?
On Monday, Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reported disturbing news involving the carrier that employed Mederos.
Houston, Texas-based Castellano 03 Trucking employed Mederos, and according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) records, operates 5 trucks with a total of 5 drivers.
The company has a lengthy history of safety violations including 30 just in the last 24 months.
Of the recorded violations, 23 are maintenance-related with 10 of those pertaining to improper care of brakes.
Mederos claims “brake failure” occurred while traveling along a downhill grade on I-70 moments before the accident.
It was this “mechanical issue,” Mederos’ attorney, Robert Corry, argued during a recent court appearance, that caused Mederos to lose control of the flatbed semi which was loaded with lumber.
Further, the trucking company was cited on two occasions for violations pertaining to their drivers not being able to adequately speak and read English.
The exact violations stated,
1.) Driver cannot read or speak the English language sufficiently to respond to official inquiries.
2.) Driver must be able to understand highway traffic signs and signals in the English language
It is unclear if Mederos was one of the drivers cited.
However, according to Diaz, Mederos has only been employed by Castellano 03 Trucking for two weeks.
She said he took the job because he would get to drive outside of the state of Texas.
“He was so happy because when you go out of state it’s more money. He’s so happy,” she told Fox31.
The violations against Castellano 03 Trucking pertaining to their drivers’ insufficient understanding of English occurred well before the previous two weeks.
TNN is still working to confirm Mederos’ employment dates with the trucking company.
TNN is also seeking to learn new details into the circumstances under which Mederos may have obtained his CDL.
We will be providing an update on this soon, so stay logged on to TransportationNation.com for the latest developments on this story and many others.