Driver guilty of vehicular homicide
SUMMIT COUNTY – A semi-truck driver has been found guilty of vehicular homicide more than three years after he lost control of his truck near the Eisenhower Tunnel, killing one man and injuring 10 other people.A 12 person jury deliberated for two hours before finding Rosauro Saenz guilty on one count of vehicular homicide, three counts of vehicular assault and eight counts of careless driving causing injury.”In my mind, it was pretty straightforward, ” Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Romeo said of the conviction. A sentencing hearing will be held on Jan. 10. Saenz faces up to 12 years in jail and $500,000 in fines.The accident happened at about 2:45 p.m. on Oct. 13, 2001, while Saenz was driving westbound on Interstate 70 near milepost 208. Saenz was driving his fully loaded tractor trailer at least 35 miles per hour over the posted speed limit for four miles and eyewitnesses testified that they saw smoke coming from Saenz’s brakes for at least three miles. One witness also testified that Saenz had the opportunity to exit on two runaway truck ramps, but failed to do so.As he was driving down the hill toward Silverthorne, Saenz crashed into a mini-van, then continued 600 feet before barreling into three other cars, plowing over the guardrail and into a ravine.Dickie Scroggins, of Longmont, died as a result of his injuries. Ten other people were injured, three seriously enough to warrant vehicular assault charges, which includes broken bones, a risk of death or a risk of a loss of limbs.”This is an important case because of the number of families and the 11 victims who were affected in this one criminal action,” said Romeo. “The defendant’s actions affected five families pretty seriously. The Scroggins family is still having a hard time dealing with Dickie’s death.”Romeo said she believes compelling testimony from witnesses was vital in winning this case.For example, Romeo said the defense argued that a preceding accident caused traffic to slow down, which made it too difficult for Saenz to decrease his speed as he drove down the hill.But, one of the witnesses who was driving a semi truck said he had no problem braking with the flow of traffic.”This sends a message to truckers to beware. Pay attention to what you’re doing, go slow. This is a seven percent grade and you’re putting a lot of people in danger when you’re not being prudent,” said Romeo.- Nicole FormosaNicole Formosa can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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