GOLDEN, Colo. - Days after a truck driver was sentenced to 110 years in prison for causing a fiery pileup that killed four people on a Colorado highway, millions have signed an online petition asking for his sentence to be reduced.
On Monday, a judge sentenced 26-year-old Rogel Aguilera-Mederos to 110 years following his October conviction for the April 25, 2019, crash on Interstate 70, just west of Denver.
District Court Judge Bruce Jones imposed the sentence after finding it was the mandatory minimum set forth under state law, The Denver Post reported.
"I will state that if I had the discretion, it would not be my sentence," the judge said.
Millions across the country agreed, signing a Change.org petition asking Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to grant Aguilera-Mederos clemency or commutation as time served.
A spokesperson for Change.org told FOX 31 Denver that the petition is the fastest-growing petition on the website for all of 2021, saying more than 45,000 people signed it in just the span of one hour on Wednesday.
Attorney Bryan Kuhn told the news outlet he believes Aguilera-Mederos' story resonates with so many because they viewed the crash as unintentional.
"There doesn’t seem to be an intentionality of murder, and he’s getting a sentence that would rival a mass murderer," Kuhn said. ""I think that is not sitting well, I think a lot of people think there maybe should be a long jail sentence, but this may be just a little too much for some folks."
The governor's office acknowledged the case, telling FOX 31, "We are aware of this issue, the Governor and his team review each clemency application individually."
Four people died in a fiery crash on I-70 in Lakewood, Colorado on April 25, 2019. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
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 85 mph on a part of the interstate where commercial vehicles are limited to 45 mph because of a steep descent from the Rocky Mountain foothills, according to investigators.
The initial impact caused a 28-vehicle chain-reaction wreck, which ruptured gas tanks, causing a giant fireball to erupt with flames that consumed several vehicles and melted parts of the highway.
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. 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.
The crash killed Miguel Angel Lamas Arellano, 24; William Bailey, 67; Doyle Harrison, 61; and Stanley Politano, 69.
Aguilera-Mederos wept as he spoke during the sentencing, apologizing 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."
Attorneys said Aguilera-Mederos has the option to appeal his sentence.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.