Trucker who killed Wyoming family of 5 in 2022 crash gets 11 years in prison

A crash on I-25 in Weld County that left five people dead on June 14, 2022. A second crash nearby around the same time also left one dead. (Credit: KDVR)

DENVER (KDVR) — A tractor-trailer driver who crashed into an SUV carrying a Wyoming family on Interstate 25 was sentenced Friday to 11 years in the Department of Corrections with a mandatory parole period of three years.

Jesus Puebla, 27, was found guilty of five counts of vehicular homicide, as well as assault, reckless driving, careless driving, violating commercial vehicle safety rules and driving without commercial license, by a jury in March. He pleaded not guilty to the charges on June 20, 2023, just over a year after the fatal accident.

On Friday, almost two years to the day after the fatal accident, Puebla was condemned for the deaths. He was sentenced to two years in prison for the death of a victim, plus an additional year for traffic assault.

The victims were identified as Emiliano and Christina Godines, ages 51 and 47, along with their 3-month-old grandchild, Tessleigh, and her 20-year-old parents, Aaron Godines and Halie Everts. The family was reportedly celebrating a birthday in Denver and was on their way back to Wyoming.

“There is a lot of grief and a lot of love in the courtroom today,” Judge Allison Esser said during sentencing. “There are no winners or losers in this matter. There were a lot of losses. I see very close-knit families on both sides.

Esser noted in her sentencing speech that she and the jury did not believe the crash was an accident, but said Puebla showed remorse by remaining at the scene. Esser said that during the trial, evidence and testimony showed that traffic did not suddenly stop. She also noted that Puebla had five prior traffic violations, including reckless driving.

“It was reckless driving in a 20,000-pound truck,” Esser said. “You had a responsibility to our community. Anyone who drives trucks of this size has an additional responsibility to the community, because these trucks present an additional danger: they are more dangerous on the road. This was never going to be a skirmish: it was always going to raise serious and significant concerns.

Esser highlighted the toll the crash took on first responders and visitors, noting that it wasn't until later that first responders realized Tessleigh was in the car.

“They were young, vibrant people,” Esser said. “They were part of an extremely close-knit family and a close-knit community.”

Aaron Godines, Hailey Everts and their 3-month-old daughter, Tessleigh, were killed in a crash on Interstate 25 on June 13, 2022, along with Godines' parents. (Credit: Désirée Everts)

According to the Colorado State Patrol, the truck driver did not have a valid commercial driver's license at the time of the crash, and witnesses told FOX31 the trucker was driving “aggressively” before the crash. Police records also indicate the truck was traveling 75 mph before hitting the family's SUV, which was going about 6 mph.

The truck also had several brake violations, according to police.

Family remembers five members killed in 2022

The jury trial to determine Puebla's guilt or innocence began Monday, March 18. FOX31 spoke to the family's great uncle, Thomas Bueno, about the trial before it began.

“It’s so raw, you’re so angry.” But now it’s about accountability,” Bueno said. “Maybe this will bring about a change, whether a vehicle or truck is checked and there is a problem with the brakes or something is not allowed to travel on the road.”

Police told FOX31 in 2022 there was no evidence Puebla tried to avoid the crash.

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