Sun Sentinel Broward Edition

Drunk driver in fa­tal crash to learn fate

- By Wayne K. Rous­tan Staff writer See TRIAL, 2B

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. wkrous­tan@tribpub.com or 954-356-4303

 ?? JOE CAVARETTA/STAFF FILE PHOTO ?? Kayla Men­doza apol­o­gizes to the fam­i­lies of the two vic­tims af­ter plead­ing guilty to two counts of DUI man­slaugh­ter.
JOE CAVARETTA/STAFF FILE PHOTO Kayla Men­doza apol­o­gizes to the fam­i­lies of the two vic­tims af­ter plead­ing guilty to two counts of DUI man­slaugh­ter.

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