“2 Drunk 2 Care” may sound like a typical Twitter post by a young person, but for Kayla Mendoza, that tweet turned out to be a substantiation of her role in a fatal car accident.
According to the New Times Broward/Palm Beach, Mendoza, 21, has recently been sentenced to 24 years of prison plus six years of probation after she was involved in a Fort Lauderdale car crash that killed two women on November 17, 2013. Her driving privileges have also been revoked for life, and the victims’ families have requested that she be denied bond.
Accident reports say that Mendoza, who was 20 at the time, was driving a Hyundai Sonata going the wrong way on Sawgrass Expressway. It crashed into a Toyota Camry, which was occupied by the two victims, Marisa Catronio and Kaitlyn Ferrante, both 21.
Later investigations discovered that Mendoza had tweeted “2 drunk 2 care” hours before the accident. Her Twitter account also hinted at drug use. NBC News reports that the Florida Highway Patrol found that she had a blood-alcohol content of 0.15 – almost twice the legal limit – when the car crash occurred, and that she had traces of cannabis in her system.
Mendoza’s family told the media that her Twitter account had been hacked, and they later deleted that account. But sworn affidavits of witnesses said that Mendoza had drinks with coworkers before she drove that night. There were also witnesses who said that she was speeding into oncoming traffic, causing other vehicles to swerve out of her way.
In February 2015, Mendoza pleaded guilty to two charges of DUI manslaughter, and was recently sentenced in Broward County.
While a prison sentence for the defendant cannot bring back the lives of the two women, achieving justice under the law is a way for the victims’ families to recover from the tragedy. Ashley Ferrante, sister of one of the victims, affirmed it in court, saying that because Mendoza “killed” her sister, it would not be fair for her to be allowed freedom.
Families who have lost their loved ones in vehicle accidents should be aware of the legal steps they can take. For some, obtaining compensation for their financial and emotional losses would help them get back on their feet. For others, pressing charges and having the responsible party punished would help them regain their peace of mind.
Whatever legal options a family is considering, they would need a lawyer who is experienced in fatal accidents. The good attorney can determine whether they have basis for a wrongful death suit, and how best to proceed with it.