Kayla Mendoza became nationally infamous overnight back on November 17, 2013 — not simply because she drove drunk and caused an accident that killed two young women, but because of the seemingly callous message she posted to her Twitter account just a few hours before getting into her car with a blood alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit and driving head-on into another car.
Her tweet read, “2 drunk 2 care.”
Mendoza was driving in the wrong lane on the Sawgrass Expressway outside of Miami, Florida, when she slammed head-on into a car containing best friends Kaitlyn Nicole Ferrante Marisa Caran Catronio, pictured below, both 21 years of age.
On Monday, Mendoza learned how she will pay for her fatal mistake, when a judge in Broward County, Florida, handed down her sentence.
Mendoza was 20 years old at the time of the tragedy, still under the drinking age in Florida and all 50 states. But according to court documents she spent $65 on alcoholic beverages during a night out with co-workers at a Mexican restaurant called Tijuana Taxi Co.
Despite being underage, Mendoza was served two large margarita cocktail drinks and two other tequila drinks.
Mendoza’s Twitter account — the source of the picture below — revealed numerous references to drug use, and she even referred to herself in her Twitter profile as “Pothead Princess.”
But she said later that the “2 Drunk 2 Care” tweet was aimed at her boyfriend, with whom she had been arguing earlier, and was not intended to mean that she did not care about driving drunk and killing someone.
Mendoza faced a 30-year sentence, but Judge David Haimes instead sentenced her to 24 years plus six years of probation once she is released — plus credit for time served, meaning she will likely be about 46 when she gets out of prison.
“That feels like a lifetime,” her lawyer, Will Anderson, said — adding that Mendoza could eventually have her sentence reduced for good behavior in prison.
Haimes, who also revoked Mendoza’s driver’s license for life, said that the young woman’s obvious remorse was a factor is the somewhat shorter sentence.
A tearful Mendoza apologized to the families of her victims in court Monday, pleading for them to forgive her.
“I think about them everyday and I regret my choices every day,” Mendoza said. “I don’t remember deciding to drive, so I can’t even tell you what was going through my mind when I made that decision. I have no excuses for anything I’ve done. I just ask for forgiveness.”
But family members of the two girls, who also spoke in court, refused to forgive Kayla Mendoza.
“How do you forgive someone who ruined your life and your family’s life forever?” said Dustin Catronio, brother of one of the victims.
“You took took everything I worked so hard to keep safe and protected and destroyed it in one careless second, you destroyed it all,” Christine Ferrante, mother of victim Kaitlyn Ferrante said.
Kayla Mendoza, who pled guilty on February 18 to two charges of DUI manslaughter, will serve her time as a women’s prison near Ocala, Florida.
[Image: WTVJ – TV Screen Capture]