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HomeNewsTrucker who killed Wyoming family in crash sentenced to 11 years in...

Trucker who killed Wyoming family in crash sentenced to 11 years in prison

A truck driver who collided with an SUV carrying a Wyoming family on Interstate 25 was sentenced on Friday to serve 11 years in the Department of Corrections, followed by a mandatory three-year parole period.

Jesus Puebla, 27, had been found guilty by a jury in March on five counts of vehicular homicide, as well as charges of vehicular assault, careless driving, reckless driving, commercial vehicle safety violations, and driving without a commercial license. He had pleaded not guilty to these charges in June 2023, just over a year after the fatal accident.

The sentencing, nearly two years after the tragic crash, allocated two years of imprisonment for each victim’s death, with an additional year for the vehicular assault.

The victims included Emiliano and Christina Godines, ages 51 and 47, along with their 3-month-old grandchild Tessleigh, and her parents, Aaron Godines (20) and Halie Everts (20). The family had recently celebrated a birthday in Denver and was returning to Wyoming when the accident occurred.

Judge Allison Esser, presiding over the case, acknowledged the profound grief in the courtroom, emphasizing that there were no winners in this tragedy. She noted that both sides had suffered significant losses, highlighting the tight-knit nature of the families involved.

During sentencing, Judge Esser expressed that she and the jury did not view the crash as accidental, but recognized Puebla’s remorse for remaining at the scene. She underscored evidence presented during the trial indicating that traffic was not abruptly stopping and cited Puebla’s history of five prior traffic offenses, including reckless driving.

“This was reckless behavior, compounded by operating a 20,000-pound truck,” Judge Esser remarked. “Drivers of such vehicles bear a heightened responsibility to the community due to the increased danger they pose on the road. This incident was not destined to be minor—it was inherently dangerous and consequential.”

Judge Esser also acknowledged the emotional toll on first responders and witnesses, noting the delayed realization that Tessleigh was among the victims.

“These were vibrant, young individuals deeply connected to their family and community,” Esser commented.

According to Colorado State Patrol records, Puebla was driving without a valid commercial driver’s license at the time of the collision. Witnesses reported aggressive driving behavior leading up to the crash, with the truck traveling at 76 mph before striking the family’s SUV, which was moving at approximately 10 mph.

Furthermore, police records indicated several brake violations on the truck, underscoring concerns about its roadworthiness.

As the trial concluded, the family’s great-uncle, Thomas Bueno, expressed hope that accountability in the case might spur improvements in vehicle safety regulations.

“The grief remains raw, but now it’s about accountability,” Bueno said. “Perhaps this will bring about changes to ensure vehicles, especially trucks, are thoroughly checked and kept off the road if they pose risks.”

 

By: Big Sky Headlines staff

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