Six Months After Gillette Family Killed By Speeding Semi, Driver Charged

Six months after a semi truck slammed into the back of a slowed car, killing a family of five that was heading home to Gillette, the driver has been charged with vehicular homicide.

Clair McFarland

December 17, 20227 min read

Everts family 12 16 22

By Clair McFarland, General Assignment Reporter  

Six months ago a semi truck on I-25 near Greeley, Colorado rammed into the back of a slowed car, killing a family of five that was headed home to Wyoming. The truck driver was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide.

Jesus Puebla, 26, of Denver, faces decades in prison if convicted on the five counts of vehicular homicide, one vehicular assault charge, and traffic violations with which he was charged Dec. 7.   

Puebla now is out of custody on bond, according to the Weld County District Attorney’s Office.  

Dez Everts, the mother of crash victim Halie Everts, said that the night after Puebla was arrested, she slept peacefully.   

But it didn’t last.   

“He was bonded out four days later,” she said. “It’s just like a nightmare all over again. Nothing’s going right, the right direction.”  

Everts said it feels unjust.  

“He’s out to celebrate the holidays with his family and we can’t,” she said. “It’s not fair. It makes me sick.”

Family Trip  

The case stems from a four-vehicle crash on the afternoon of June 13, when the semi truck Puebla was driving slammed into the back of Aaron Godines’ Ford Edge, according to a Dec. 7 evidentiary affidavit filed in the case.

Godines died minutes after the impact. His fiancée Halie Everts, along with their 3-month-old daughter Tessleigh, and Godines’ parents, Emiliano and Chrstina Godines, all died in the crash, the affidavit says. They were on their way home to Gillette, Wyoming.

The engaged couple had gone to Colorado over the weekend to celebrate their 20th birthdays – which were days apart that spring – and to take Aaron Godines’ mom to a doctor’s appointment, Dez Everts told Cowboy State Daily on Friday.

“They’d just actually left the hospital and headed home when the accident happened,” said Everts.   

Dust Cloud

The affidavit says Puebla drove a semi truck at about 76 miles per hour directly into the back of the car without hitting his brakes or swerving before the impact.   

“There were not any pre-impact skid marks before the impact happened,” wrote Trooper D. Lewis of the Colorado State Patrol, in the affidavit, noting that the semi’s brakes were later found to be faulty, they would not have passed an inspection prior to the crash.    

The Godines’ car hurtled toward the median.   

Puebla’s semi then rammed a Ford Focus, this time while braking, and the Focus hit a Mistubishi Outlander, the affidavit says. Some of the occupants of the Focus and Mitsubishi were injured, but none died.   

Puebla’s semi went into the median. Dash cameras in the area captured the moment as a cloud of dust, the affidavit says. There, the semi hit the Godines’ car again before coming to rest.  

‘I Didn’t Want It To Be Real’  

Back in Gillette, something wasn’t right.   

“I always tell Halie to let me know when they’re leaving town,” Dez Everts said. “I never got that text or call.”  

That evening, Aaron Godines’ sister called Everts.   

“She was like, ‘I don’t want to scare you or anything, but I can’t get ahold of anyone – my mom, my dad, Halie, Aaron,’” Everts recalled.   

Everts “hauled butt” to Aaron’s sister’s house, where the two women called police, highway patrol, and hospitals. They searched for accidents on the Internet and found the Interstate crash.    

“And I instantly knew it was my daughter’s car,” said Everts. 

After calling every entity they could think to call for information, Everts went home to pack. The women decided to go to Denver and search all the hospitals for their loved ones.    

While she was packing, a trooper called Everts to tell her all five people in her daughter’s car had died.   

“I just dropped to my knees and freaked out,” she said. “I didn’t want it to be real. It was like a bad dream.”   

Everts told her husband and her son, who is 17, and her other daughter, who is 13.   

Her son went outside and screamed, she said.   

“It was horrible,” said Everts.   

Half a year after the crash, Everts said she and her family approach life “one day at a time.”  

It’s a blessing having the two teens still at home, she said. “If I didn’t have them I don’t know where I’d be right now.” 

‘But That Semi’  

According to the affidavit, a witness to the crash told the trooper that Puebla had been driving aggressively and tailgating him just before the incident.   

Another witness said people were braking and slowing down on the Interstate that afternoon due to a crash ahead.   

“But that semi,” continued the witness. “I don’t know if he just wasn’t looking at the time, but I mean, he plowed that… car. It was bad, man. I just seen that semi go through those cars like they were butter almost.”   

Puebla’s phone records revealed that he was not distracted by his cell phone at the time, the affidavit states.  

New Baby  

Halie Everts and Aaron Godines were together for years, Everts said.   

“I’d always give them crap, like, ‘When are you going to give me a grandbaby?’” she said. “I finally got her. And she was ripped out of my arms.”   

Everts said her daughter Halie loved working with kids and caring for others, and worked for the Boys and Girls Club for a while before becoming pregnant.   

“She had the biggest heart,” said Everts.   

Everts also was close with Aaron Godines.   

“He was amazing,” she said. Aaron worked at the Home Depot and when Halie became pregnant, he encouraged her to quit her job. “He didn’t want nothing happening to his baby.”   

‘Couldn’t Stop In Time’

An off-duty EMT who was not in the crash but stopped at the scene afterward to render aid to Aaron said he talked to Puebla while he was there.   

Puebla seemed stunned, the EMT said in the affidavit.   

“He was just sitting there watching everything,” the EMT said. “But he had told me that they got in front of him and stopped and he just couldn’t stop in time.”   

Puebla’s commercial driver’s license was cancelled at the time since he did not have a valid medical certificate, the affidavit says.   

Proximate Cause Of Death  

The investigation that followed took weeks, the affidavit indicates.   

The trooper obtained search warrants for the various vehicles in late June and conducted further investigations into the vehicles in July. He tried meeting with Puebla near Denver on July 26, but Puebla cancelled, saying his employer, Caminantes Trucking, advised him to get a lawyer.   

A crash reconstructionist explained his account of the crash to the trooper on Aug. 29.   

“It is apparent to this investigator that Jesus Puebla drove the motor vehicle in a reckless manner and that such conduct was the proximate cause of death” to the Godines family, the trooper wrote in his conclusion of evidence in the affidavit.   

Puebla has not been convicted. His prosecution is ongoing.  

The affidavit says the semi had been hauling U.S. Postal Service mail from Denver to Greeley. USPS was able to retrieve the mail about a month after the crash, when troopers finished inspecting the truck.   

Share this article



Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter