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Jury finds Colorado trucker guilty of vehicular homicide in 2022 crash

Jesus Puebla, who testified that his brakes failed, is to be sentenced in June

A Colorado jury found truck driver Jesus Puebla, 27, of Denver, guilty of five counts of vehicular homicide stemming from a 2022 crash that killed a Wyoming family. (Photo: Fer Gregory/Shutterstock)

A jury in Weld County, Colorado, has found a Colorado truck driver guilty of five counts of vehicular homicide stemming from a 2022 crash that killed a Wyoming family of five that was traveling home from a birthday celebration.

The jury also found Jesus Puebla, 27, of Denver, guilty Wednesday of careless driving, reckless driving, vehicular assault, a commercial vehicle safety violation and driving without a CDL.

In June 2022, Puebla, who was driving a 1999 Kenworth T800 straight truck, was involved in a crash near Mead, Colorado, that killed Aaron Godinez, Godinez’s fianceé, Halie Everts, their 3-month-old daughter, Tessleigh, and Aaron Godinez’s parents, Emiliano Godines, 51, and Christina Godines, 47. All lived in Campbell County, Wyoming.

Investigators estimate that Puebla was traveling at 75 mph when he slammed into the 2015 Ford Edge SUV driven by Godinez, who was traveling less than 10 mph because of stopped traffic ahead on Interstate 25.

As of publication, Puebla’s defense attorney, James Colgan, had not responded to FreightWaves’ request seeking comment about the verdict.

At trial, Puebla testified that his brakes failed when he tried to stop to avoid the crash.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed by Emiliano and Christina Godines’ surviving children, Christian Godinez and Abigail Godinez, claims Puebla did not have a valid CDL or medical card as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to operate a commercial motor vehicle.

At the time of the crash, the Colorado State Patrol found that the brakes on the straight truck that was driven by Puebla “were out of adjustment.”

The truck was registered to Carlos Coreas, owner of Lucky 22 Inc. of Arvada, Colorado, but was not listed on the trucking company’s insurance policy until hours after the crash.

In a denial-of-coverage letter dated March 16, 2023, the trucking company’s insurance provider, Progressive, which is underwritten by Artisan and Truckers Casualty Co., states that a Lucky 22 employee attempted to add the truck that Puebla was driving to its insurance policy hours after the fatal crash.

According to the letter, obtained by FreightWaves, the Lucky 22 employee did not mention the crash when seeking to add the truck to its policy and provided photos of the truck that were requested by the insurance company showing no damage. Two days later, Lucky 22 added five more trucks to its policy.

While Puebla was an employee of Lucky 22, the accident report indicates the truck was displaying the U.S. Department of Transportation number of Caminantes Trucking.

The Long Beach, California, trucking company officially has the same name as its owner, Jose Mauricio Coreas, but conducted business as Caminantes Trucking before its contract authority was revoked in January, according to FMCSA’s SAFER website. 

Investigators claim Coreas subcontracted with other carriers to haul mail for the U.S. Postal Service. Those carriers included Lucky 22 Inc., which is owned by his son, Carlos Coreas.

Prior to the crash, Puebla was hauling a load of mail to Greeley, Colorado, from Denver.

Caminantes, listed as an intrastate-only company, had 46 power units and 37 drivers. According to FMCSA data, Caminantes Trucking was involved in 11 crashes — two of them fatal — over a two-year period.

In February 2023, the Postal Service announced it was severing its mail contract with Caminantes Trucking. The company that Puebla drove for, Lucky 22, also did not have its for-hire operating authority with FMCSA at the time of the crash, court filings state.

According to the court docket, Puebla’s sentencing hearing is slated for June 21.

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One Comment

  1. Bruce Larrow

    Owners of these companies should be held responsible as well. They knowingly were trying to cut costs and let this vehicle operate without insurance as well as being a safety hazard. Until owners, managers, and brokers are held accountable by being sentenced to prison also, these events will continue to happen.

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Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa has covered all aspects of the trucking industry for 16 years. She is an award-winning journalist known for her investigative and business reporting. Before joining FreightWaves, she wrote for Land Line Magazine and If you have a news tip or story idea, send her an email to [email protected] or @cage_writer on X, formerly Twitter.