LAKEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the fatal, fiery wreck on I-70, in Lakewood.
Four people were killed in the crash, after prosecutors say Rogel Aguilera-Mederos drove recklessly on eastbound I-70, plowing his truck into more than two dozen cars.
Six other people were hospitalized, including Leslie Maddox—who first spoke with FOX31 shortly before being released from a Lakewood hospital back in 2019.
Maddox says even a year later, there are still days she wonders how she survived such a horrific wreck.
“I walked away from an accident where I was hit at 85 miles per hour by a semi. Four other people died that day. So that puts things in perspective,” she told FOX31, on Saturday.
Even after being hospitalized and undergoing multiple surgeries, the magnitude of what happened on April 25, 2019 didn’t fully set in until she saw a video of it—months later, during a court hearing for Aguilera-Mederos.
“When I saw that video, I think it was the first time it really hit me how lucky I was and how horrible it was,” said Maddox. “It was probably the most surreal moment of the accident.”
Maddox says she’s alive today because of two strangers, who rushed in to rescue her.
“They had no idea what was going to happen. My car could have blown up any minute as she [a stranger] was getting me out,” she recalled.
Maddox says she still periodically keeps in touch with both of them—calling the man and the woman heroes.
Getting back to normal hasn’t been easy—both physically and mentally.
“My nose was shattered into six pieces. I had huge lacerations across the forehead, showing bone, a compound fracture [in my arm]. My hips and shoulder were banged so bad, I needed physical therapy.”
“The fear of stopping on the highway or being stuck in traffic is paramount,” she added.
Maddox filed a lawsuit against the trucking company last year.
Castellano 03 Trucking only had $750,000 in liability insurance—the federal minimum—and Maddox says that money has already been paid out to other families.
She says even with insurance, her out of pocket medical expenses are close to $17,000
There’s a lot of medical bills, so I’ve been paying them as I can.”
Maddox says it doesn’t compare to the suffering some of the other families have had to endure, telling FOX31 she feels lucky to have walked away from something so tragic.
“I was blessed that day that somebody risked their life to get me out before the explosion and everything else that happened— and the first responders, who are there no matter what.”
Aguileras-Mederos says the brakes on his semi failed as he was coming out of the foothills last year.
His defense attorney at the time insisted mechanical brake failure led to the fatal crash.
He is now facing 40 charges in connection to the Lakewood crash, and has a jury trial scheduled for September 2020.