Trucking company in fatal I-25 crash tried to buy insurance after wreck

The Arvada trucking company involved in a fatal crash last year on Interstate 25 that killed five members of the same family tried to purchase insurance less than two hours after the collision, according to court documents.

A June 5 complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for Colorado by a Wisconsin insurance company, alleges the truck involved in the crash was not insured at the time of the June 13, 2022, wreck in Weld County.

The crash — which killed Halie Everts, her fiancé Aaron Godinez, their 3-month-old daughter Tessleigh Godinez, and Aaron’s parents Emiliano Godines and Christina Godines — occurred at 1:27 p.m.

At 2:49 p.m., Lucky 22, the now-defunct trucking company, made the request to add the involved truck to its policy, Artisan and Truckers Casualty Co. alleged in the complaint.

9News first reported the company’s insurance request.

The insurance claim comes amid serious questions about the trucking company’s safety history before the fatal crash.

“It’s been an onion,” said Grant Lawson, an attorney for the family. “We continue to peel back layer after layer and find out incredibly more horrendous stuff — from the top down.”

The family was driving north on Interstate 25 en route to their home in Gillette, Wyoming, when the crash occurred just south of Colorado 66.

Jesus Puebla was driving a 1999 Kenworth T800 box truck at the time of the four-vehicle crash. He was traveling about 76 mph when he rear-ended the Ford Edge carrying the family, authorities said. That family was going 6 mph when their car was hit.

The Colorado State Patrol determined the truck had “several violations relating to the brakes.” A witness told investigators that Puebla was driving aggressively before the crash, including tailgating at high speed.

Puebla, then 26, was arrested in December and charged with five counts of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular assault. He also faces counts of careless driving, reckless driving, a commercial vehicle safety violation and for driving without a commercial license, all traffic violations.

His case is set for trial in November in Weld County.

Puebla, Lucky 22 and a California trucking company, Caminantes Trucking, all face additional lawsuits in state and federal court.

Attorneys for the driver and companies declined to comment for this story.

Christian and Abigail Godinez, children of Emiliano Godines, accused Puebla and the trucking companies in an October 2022 federal complaint of negligence, outrageous conduct and reckless supervision for allowing an unlicensed, uninsured driver to operate a truck with brake defects.

In February, Steven and Desiree Everts, parents to Halie Everts and grandparents to Tessleigh Godines, also filed a lawsuit against the companies on similar grounds. Their complaint, filed in Jefferson County court, alleges Puebla previously had been charged with reckless driving and driving with a revoked or suspended license.

Both lawsuits are ongoing.

Federal trucking records show Caminantes drivers previously operated trucks without a commercial driver’s license and employed drivers under 21 years old, among other violations. Caminantes had 92 trucks operating on U.S. roads and highways, Lawson said. None of their drivers were covered with insurance.

“There were so many opportunities to catch these things to prevent this and none of them happened,” the attorney said.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in November fined the trucking company $21,460 in connection with the Weld County crash.

The truck also was carrying mail for the U.S. Postal Service the day of the crash. USPS continued its contract with Caminantes for months after the incident, 9News reported in November, even after learning the driver didn’t have a license. Postal officials finally terminated the agreement in February.

Lawson said he plans to add USPS to the federal lawsuit.

“It appears USPS did nothing to ensure it was hiring a motor carrier that was safe,” the attorney said. “Caminantes had an egregious history of safety violations … yet they continued to contract with them and hire them to ship US mail.”

A USPS spokesperson said he could not comment on pending litigation. Postal officials previously told 9News that “at the time of the issuance of the contract, the postal service received the necessary and required insurance validation by Caminantes Trucking.”

Greg Fulton, president and CEO of the Colorado Motor Carriers Association, called for a federal investigation into the postal service’s dealings with Caminantes. He questioned why the agency would continue to work with a company with these types of serious safety violations.

“I don’t know of any private shipper that would have done that,” he said. “I was shocked.”

He also called for Colorado to increase its penalties for those operating without a commercial driver’s license. Colorado, until this year, didn’t have a law to enforce penalties for drivers without a commercial license. The legislature this session ultimately passed a bill making the offense a $100 traffic ticket — the lowest penalty of its kind in the nation.

“Laws and regulations are only good if you’re going to enforce them,” Fulton said.

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