By: Sharon Aron Baron
On November 17, 2013 20 year-old Kayla Mendoza took the lives of Marisa Catronio and Kaitlyn Ferrante, both 21, when she drove the wrong way on the Sawgrass expressway through an exit ramp causing a head-on collision killing them both. Mendoza survived and today a judge sentenced her to 24 years and six years probation.
The judge took into consideration her remorse and lack of criminal history and decided not to impose the maximum sentence of 30 years. He ordered a permanent license revocation as well.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a toxicology report showed that Mendoza had a blood-alcohol level of .15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit of .08 percent, and traces of marijuana in her system when her car slammed into the car.
Court documents filed in a civil lawsuit against Mendoza show that she spent about $65 on alcohol before the crash, even though she was underage at the time. Mendoza posted “2 drunk 2 care” on Twitter just hours before the crash.
Shortly after, while still grieving, her family created Marisa’s Way to make sure their lost lives led to greater highway safety. Marisa’s way, a a 501(c)(3) nonprofit focuses on creating more entrance ramp awareness, along with physical devices to alert wrong way drivers and has also provided local students with scholarships for creating ideas that can help save lives.