Viral TikTok videos claim to show a long line of trucks who are ‘boycotting’ Colorado by driving round it and refusing to enter the state over the 110-year jail sentence of a fellow driver who caused a huge crash that killed four on a Colorado interstate.
Rogel Aguilera-Mederos, 26, was driving a semi on April 25, 2019 down Interstate 70 in Lakewood, Colorado, when he crashed into two dozen vehicles – including four other semi-trucks stuck in rush-hour traffic. The impact caused a fireball explosion that incinerated cars and trucks and killed four people.
According to TikTok videos, fellow drivers are now refusing to enter the state as a way to denounce the sentence they’ve deemed harsh and unfair.
‘They just offered me $5 the mile to go to Colorado. You know what I told them?…No trucks to Colorado. Let’s show the entire country what us truckers can do when we stand together,’ a trucker using the username @semi__crazy posted online.
Although the videos have gained traction in recent days, the Colorado Motor Carriers Association said on Friday they were not aware of serious attempts of a boycott.
TikTok videos show what dozens of trucks lined up on the side of the road and blocking highways, with drivers refusing to enter the Centennial State.
‘Us truck drivers are not going to Colorado. No more drivers to Colorado, we are sorry. We are standing with Roger,’ a man who claimed to be a driver said in Spanish.
Another video showing more trucks blocking traffic was captioned ‘We need to stop the country to show Colorado we are drivers, not killers.’
Many supported the protest in the comment section of the videos, while others believed it was an extreme measure that could affect food supply.
‘As a driver of over 30 years, I have to agree with the sentence!! Our job as professional drivers first and foremost is to keep the public safe,’ a driver commented.
However, Greg Fulton, president of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association told ABC News, said he hasn’t seen concerning evidence of a boycott.
‘I’m not seeing really anything that’s showing up of that boycott in terms of companies missing shipments or other things like that,’ Fulton told the outlet.
Fulton also said that while he feels for the driver, calling the crash a mechanical failure, as the petition states, is incorrect.
‘I think in our eyes is inexperience, a lack of familiarity with the driver of the mountains…I don’t think the company should have put them in this situation,’ he said.
On December 13, Aguilera-Mederos, of Texas, was sentenced to 110 consecutive years in prison by county court Judge A. Bruce Jones, who said his hands were tied due to mandatory minimum laws in the state.
He sentenced Aguilera-Mederos to the minimum in the range available to him on all 27 criminal counts, the Denver Channel reported.
‘Rogel Lazaro Aguilera-Mederos, 23, has nothing on his driving record, or on his criminal history,’ the Change.org petition for Aguilera-Mederos’ clemency, which was addressed to Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Jefferson County courts, reads.
The governor is the only person who can grant clemency at the state level. Polis most recently commuted four sentences and issued 18 pardons in December 2020. Clemency usually results in a sentence reduction or a pardon.
‘He had complied with every single request by the Jefferson County courts, and investigators on the case.’
‘He’s passed all of the drug and alcohol tests that were given including a chemical test.’
‘This accident was not intentional, nor was it a criminal act on the drivers part. No one but the trucking company he is/was employed by should be held accountable for this accident.’
‘We are trying to hold the person who needs to be held responsible, responsible. The trucking company has had several inspections since 2017, with several mechanical violations.’
The petition goes on to say that Rogel could have ‘done things differently to avoid the courts,’ but ultimately commended him for taking responsibility and apologizing to the victim’s families.
‘Some of the families even offered forgiveness,’ the petition continues.
‘Rogel is not a criminal.’
It has become one of the website’s top signed petitions after it reached 4 million signatures, according to the Change.org page.