Watch CBS News

Family of driver killed in semi crash on Highway 285 wants to change trucking legislation in Colorado

Family of driver killed in semi crash on Highway 285 wants to change trucking legislation
Family of driver killed in semi crash on Highway 285 wants to change trucking legislation 03:14

Deann Miller walked out of the Jefferson County courtroom with a purpose. 

"My husband would be alive today if there was more accountability on the truckers on the road and there isn't," she told reporters. "So I'm gonna be fighting for that."

At a Tuesday morning hearing the driver of a semi-truck, Ignacio Cruz-Mendoza, continued to be held on a bail set at $50,000. The First Judicial District Attorney argued against a reduction, stating that Cruz-Mendoza was a flight risk. He had been removed from the United States 16 times, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The DA said during the hearing that Cruz-Mendoza had five illegal entry and removal cases, a DUI case in 2018 and a 2002 Oregon drug case. 

  Ignacio Cruz-Mendoza Jefferson County

Deann, Miller's wife of 46 years and his daughter Michelle tearfully asked the judge to not reduce the bail and pleaded to Cruz-Mendoza personally to stay in the country and face accountability. 

"He was just young," Michelle said about her father. "He was only 64. I just want everyone to know that my dad was fun. He was an awesome Dad and was an awesome grandfather."

Scott Miller owned a water distribution business with his wife in the Bailey/Conifer area. His daughter described him as an adventurer who loved riding ATVs and was at his best when he was rock climbing. Both women said he was a devoted husband, father and grandfather to Michelle's children. He had recently retired and was preparing for a life after work. Cruz-Mendoza is accused of two counts of careless driving leading to death and injury. 

Scott Miller Deann Miller

"I got stuck in the traffic and I thought, 'Oh my gosh... another accident,'" Deann explained. "How ironic. I got detoured home and that was my husband in that accident."

Investigators said the truck was headed south on Highway 285 when it veered off the edge of the road, rolling onto its side near Conifer. That truck, owned by Monique Trucking, spilled 47,000 pounds of steel pipes onto five other vehicles on June 11.   

The Colorado State Patrol said that speed is considered a primary factor in the crash and that the brakes failed on the truck. Cruz-Mendoza was confirmed to have been driving without a commercial vehicle license. 


Deann mentioned that her husband would regularly train truck drivers for their water company and noted the irony of his passing at the hands of what she said was an unsafe driver. 

"He would take people out and make them drive before he would hire them and if they couldn't drive the road right, they wouldn't get their job," she recalled. 

The family is trying to turn grief into purpose, asking for more stringent enforcement of commercial licenses, mountain trucking and companies that skirt safety regulations. The company that employed Cruz-Mendoza had five safety violations reported. Miller said that while there has to be personal accountability and responsibility for the drivers that cause accidents, there also has to be some type of penalties for companies that favor profits over safety. 

"There's always personal and professional accountability and that's why I asked the judge to make sure that the man who took my father's life stays to face judgment," said Michelle. "If his death is going to mean anything, it's going to mean that people are more aware and that truckers as a profession are more careful."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.