Sun Sentinel Broward Edition
Drunk driver in fatal crash to learn fate
The woman who tweeted she was “2 drunk 2 care” minutes before a wrong-way crash killed two other young women on the Sawgrass Expressway is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.
Kayla Maria Mendoza, 22, is facing up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty Feb. 18 to two counts of DUI manslaughter.
Best friends Marisa Catronio and Kaitlyn Nicole Ferrante, both 21, were killed Nov. 17, 2013, when Mendoza’s Hyundai Sonata collided head-on with Ferrante’s Toyota Camry near North University Drive. Catronio died at the scene. Ferrante died four days later at Broward Health North Medical Center.
Mendoza suffered head injuries and broke both legs in the crash.
A tearful Mendoza apologized
to the victims’ families from her wheelchair during her court appearance in February.
“I know this is long overdue, but I just want to tell you all how sorry I am,” Mendoza told them in a quivering voice. “If I could trade places with them, I would, but there’s nothing I could do to change it and I’m sorry.”
As some family members wiped away tears, Catronio’s brother, Jessie, stood up in the second row of the courtroom gallery and turned his back to Mendoza, too angry to forgive.
The Ferrante family’s attorney Jamie Finizio Bascombe said they were “surprised” to hear an apology.
Defense attorney Will Anderson had advised Mendoza against apologizing to the family.
Mendoza said she prayed for their forgiveness.
“It’s my fault,” she said at the time. “One mistake changed all of our lives, one stupid mistake, and I’m sorry.”
On the night of the crash, Mendoza had been drinking with coworkers at a Coral Springs restaurant, according to court records.
Her blood alcohol level was .15, nearly twice the legal limit of .08, when she was traveling east in the westbound lanes of the Sawgrass Expressway for seven miles at more than 80 mph. There were traces of marijuana in her system, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Catronio and Ferrante were both the eldest of three siblings, and they both attended Palm Beach State College. Catronio worked in a pediatrician’s office. Ferrante wanted to become a neonatal nurse. firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4303