21 Year old Kayla “2 Drunk 2 Care” Mendoza of Hallandale Beach sat in the courtroom of Judge David Haimes in Broward this past Tuesday for her arraignment. She was wheelchair bound with her hair pulled back a tight bun, keeping a downward gaze during the proceedings. The woman accused of drunk driving the wrong-way down the road and causing the crash that killed two Coral Springs best friends pleaded not guilty.
The passengers of the Camry Mendoza had struck were Marisa Catronio and Kaitlyn Ferrante, both only 21 years old. Marisa Catronio was pronounced dead at the scene. Kaitlyn Ferrante later died from her injuries the next day. Ferrante and Catronio were 2010 graduates of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and had been attending Palm Beach State College.
Local authorities stated Kayla Mendoza had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit of .15 on the evening of Nov. 17 when she allegedly drove in the wrong direction onto the Sawgrass Expressway and had ahead-on collision with a 2012 Toyota Camry. She was 20 years old, under the legal drinking age at the time. Mendoza herself suffered broken legs and a brain injury. She was driving a Hyundai Sonata when the accident took place. On Tuesday, her right leg appeared outstretched on the wheelchair with metal rods keeping it together.
Investigators assigned to the case discovered Kayla Mendoza had posted that evening on her Twitter account “2 drunk 2 care” only a few hours before the crash occurred that took the lives of the other two girls. In an interview that aired on the popular program “Inside Edition” last week, Mendoza said the tweet was directed at her boyfriend pertaining to a dispute, and had nothing to do with her decision to drive that evening.
This young woman who is lucky to have survived herself is being charged with two counts of DUI manslaughter while impaired, two counts of DUI manslaughter with an unlawful blood-alcohol level, two counts of vehicular homicide and two counts of driving without a license causing death. She was placed on a $600,000 bond. While she only needs to pay 10% of that amount to be released from custody, the judge stipulated she must be able to show that she has the rest of the $600,000 available.
This incident is catching a lot of media attention, largely due to the blatant statement on the social media format that has been used in the case against Kayla Mendoza. Another problem with this picture is that Broward County Judge John Hurley stated during the preceding upon reviewing Kayla Mendoza’s driving record “It doesn’t appear she’s ever had a driver’s license”. However her attorney John Trevena said he plans to use a defense of involuntary intoxication, arguing that Mendoza herself was a victim. The trial date has not yet been set, but once Mendoza is able to establish bond if at all, she will be placed on house arrest for the duration of the trial.
As this story develops, it can only be said this tragedy needs to be made an example one way or another. Far too many people, especially young people, do not take into consideration the lives put at risk when driving “2 Drunk 2 Care”. This girl was not even 21 and legally old enough to drink at the time, and the other two were barely any older. Now the lives of 2 young women have ended, and 3 families will face permanent damage, because one young woman made a choice that it’s now too late to change.
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