In the early morning hours of November 17, 2013, 911 dispatchers in South Florida received a harrowing call:
“A white or silver four-door car just went by me going northbound in the southbound lanes at probably about a hundred miles an hour.”
A fiery crash ensued when the vehicle crashed into a car carrying two young women.
The driver of the vehicle, Kayla Mendoza, had tweeted this several hours before:
Of the incident she later recalled:
“How I ended up on the Sawgrass Expressway, I wish I knew.”
The 21-year-old girls in the other vehicle — best friends Kaitlyn Ferrante and Marisa Catronio — didn’t survive the collision.
Catronio was pronounced dead on the scene and Ferrante passed away in the hospital several days later.
“It breaks my heart… When I found out that not only did I get into an accident, but the two girls I got into an accident had passed away, it just really made me wonder why I didn’t too,” said Mendoza.
As a result, Mendoza was sentenced to 24 years in prison and six years probation. In addition, she is banned from driving for the rest of her life.
Before she received her sentence, Mendoza made a remorseful plea to the court:
“This all may be my fault, but at the end of the day, I’m a human being just like everyone else,” she said. “I have a heart, and it aches everyday. The guilt is overwhelming.”
Her decision to drive that night, and subsequently end the lives of two young girls, has left her with an immense amount of regret.
“No matter how much time passes they will never leave my heart. I think about them every day and I regret my choices every day.”
Her only wish is that her poor choices can sway others from drinking and driving.
“I want to speak about this accident with everyone so that I can prevent this from ever happening again.”
For the families of Catronio and Ferrante the damage is done— they will never again see their loved ones.
But hopefully young people will take these potential consequences into consideration before they get behind the wheel after drinking.