DENVER — Survivors of the deadly Interstate 70 crash in 2019 are still dealing with the emotional effects today, as well as financial ones from their physical injuries.
Leslie Maddox Ross from Arvada was hit when truck driver Rogel Aguilera-Mederos lost his brakes on I-70 and barred into a traffic backup in Lakewood on April 25, 2019. She has undergone several surgeries since the accident to recover. She also has PTSD from the accident.
"Horrible dreams, which just makes me wake up, and I feel like I'm never rested," she said. "It was hard enough to go to trial, especially two and half years of trial getting prepped and delayed and prepped."
Maddox Ross said she has constant pain in her hip. She had surgery on her arm and her face, but medical bills add up quickly.
Overall, costs have added up to $400,000. Insurance has covered a large portion of the amount, but she is still responsible for thousands of dollars as well as her deductible, which she is forced to pay due to her ongoing medical needs.
"They always talk about actual cost versus pain and suffering, but I just want my costs covered," Maddox Ross said.
She and her attorney filed a civil lawsuit based out of Texas against the Houston-owned trucking company, Castellano 03 Trucking, Aguilera-Mederos and Progressive Direct Insurance Company.
Maddox Ross said that while Castellano 03 Trucking was insured, the policy only covered the load. She considers the policy to be underinsured. She tried to receive a payout from the insurance policy but said the funds were gone by the time her lawyers tried to access the money.
"The trucking company was minimally insured, according to the law, and I received no compensation, no help for my medical bills," Maddox Ross said.
Her lawyers have filed a civil lawsuit to find other avenues to potentially access compensation, but Maddox Ross said she is unsure whether she will get help for the financial burden she's had to endure.
Video below: I-70 crash survivors weigh in their opinion on the 110-year sentence.
Other victims said they received some payout, but even without any funds, they are enduring what they call a social media campaign that unrightfully paints Aguilera-Mederos as a victim. The public pressure has prompted Gov. Jared Polis to consider a clemency application that could potentially reduce Aguilera-Mederos' sentence.
"For him to jump into the fray while the court system is still handling it is inappropriate and premature," said Duane Bailey, who lost his brother Bill in the crash.
"All day long, he was seen driving above the speed limit.. His brakes on Berthoud Pass were already smoking and hot," Bailey said. "Yes, they failed, but they failed because of his actions. They didn't fail because of a mechanical failure."
The majority of survivors whom 9News contacted are asking for the judicial process to play out in court rather than through other avenues. The ones we spoke to agree that 110 years is too much, but that Aguilera-Mederos should serve time in prison.
"I do agree that 110 years is too much, but I also do think clemency is out of line because I think that should be for someone who's not even just remorseful but has exhausted their other avenues," Bailey said.
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