Semi-trailer driver in fatal Colorado highway crash was illegal immigrant

The man accused of crashing a tractor-trailer on a Colorado highway last week, killing one person and injuring another, is an illegal immigrant with a long history of deportation from the United States, officials said. authorities.

Ignacio Cruz-Mendoza, 47, of Mexico, faces charges of dangerous driving and homicide in connection with the June 11 crash.

Mendoza was hauling a load of stiff pipe on Highway 285 near Conifer when he lost control of the tractor-trailer, sending it rolling onto its side as it left the road, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) said ).

A load of pipe and angle iron spilled out of the semi-trailer and onto five other vehicles. One person was killed and another seriously injured, the CSP said. Mendoza was not injured.

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From left to right: photo of Ignacio Cruz-Mendoza; wreckage from the fatal crash along US 285 in Colorado last week. (Colorado State Patrol; KDVR)

The wreck blocked the highway in both directions, leaving it closed for more than 12 hours as authorities worked to clear the road.

Cruz-Mendoza was arrested and booked into the Jefferson County Jail. CSP said it did not have a local address.

An ICE spokesperson confirmed that Cruz-Mendoza has a long history of deportation to Mexico, dating back more than two decades. ICE first discovered Cruz-Mendoza in April 2002 when he was arrested on local charges in Jefferson County, Oregon, the ICE spokesperson said.

US 285 wreck near Conifer, Colorado

Aerial footage shows the wreck along US 285 near Conifer, Colorado. (KDVR)

An immigration judge ordered Cruz-Mendoza returned to Mexico on May 29, 2002. Since then, he has been removed from the United States or voluntarily returned to Mexico 16 times, ICE said.

Denver ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) reviewed Cruz-Mendoza’s arrest with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and filed a case to be notified of his possible release.

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Online court records show Cruz-Mendoza remains in custody. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 30.

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