"I love Twitter," Kayla Mendoza wrote. "I feel like I can say whatever the hell I want."
This declarative statement, written on March 24 of last year, remains the most concrete description of the relatively unknown Mendoza, who tweeted "2 drunk 2 care" last Saturday before allegedly causing a horrific accident that killed two young women. Despite its brevity, this affirmation encompasses how Mendoza lived her 20 years: extemporaneously saying whatever she thinks -- and making it public for all to see, regardless of consequences.
In a pure distillation of how readily members of this new generation publicize intimate details of their life, Mendoza dispatched thousands of tweets chronicling a string of mundane jobs, failed relationships, squabbles with parents, boredom, and, most prominently, drug abuse. Taken as one, they convey a complex, but apathetic picture of Mendoza.
According to public records, she at one time lived in lime-colored, one-story house in a lower-class neighborhood in Hallandale Beach on SW Seventh Terrace. From there, she went to Hallandale High School, where one of her classmates remembers her as a "really nice person."
"Her crowd was just the normal people of Hallandale High School," recalls Richard Vela, who took classes with her during their 2011 senior year. During those years, "she was kind of responsible in class -- she was there almost all the time."
Vela expressed astonishment at the contents of her Twitter account, which teems with images and statements involving marijuana. "I knew she maybe tried pot before, but never thought that it had gotten to that state."
During her senior year, she began working as a server at a Coldstone Creamery, her Facebook account shows. Then, she took a position as a "model," at Abercrombie & Fitch -- where she only lasted two months -- before finally landing at a MetroPCS, where her cousin, Karen Massey, was a manager. (Massey didn't return requests for comment.)
This job, however, like the others left Mendoza with feelings of dissatisfaction. And when the boredom of suburban existence emerged, she resorted to her greatest infatuation: Twitter.
So bored. I mean, how many times can I check Twitter before shooting myself
— Kaila Mendoza (@highimkaila) August 20, 2012
Just as frequently, she used pot to quell listlessness.
Just me & my weed tonight
— Kaila Mendoza (@highimkaila) August 18, 2012
Marijuana was a defining aspect of Mendoza's ethos. Her first picture on Instagram shows a rolled blunt. She calls herself the "pothead princess," mentions the drug hundreds of times on Twitter, and, at times, used it to ingratiate herself with friends and lovers.
I can't wait til Adam is off of drug probation. I'm gna buy him a nice bong and an eighth for himself. Get high, babe!!
— Kaila Mendoza (@highimkaila) August 8, 2012
Still, there was a certain sweetness about Mendoza that made her likable, those who know her say. "She's a great girl," says Jon, who declined to give his last name. "She was just cool to hang out with. I don't know how to describe it; she was just a really nice girl... It's ridiculous what's happened to her. It's so crazy."
At some point, according to her Facebook profile, she attended Broward College, though it's unclear whether she graduated. After leaving her job at MetroPCS, she took a sales rep job at a T-Mobile in Pembroke Pines. From there, she appeared to have led a quiet existence of smoking pot and working until last Saturday night.
At 1:45 a.m. Saturday night, four hours after tweeting "2 drunk 2 care," authorities say she pulled her Hyuandai Sonata onto the Sawgrass Expressway going the wrong way, and collided with a 2012 Toyota, killing both passengers inside.
"She is a young girl with a bright future ahead," one of her friends wrote New Times in an anonymous e-mail. "She might have used an illegal drug, but so does a large percentage of the world. She had control and self respect for herself."
The friend blames the bar for giving her alcohol that night. "How do you expect a young girl to do great when you have licensed bars giving alcohol to under-aged teens. She didn't have a choice when it came down to what happened that night."
"But if it's one thing I know is that she will never be the same mentally. She lost what nobody can ever return. And she will live with that the rest of her life. And that's the worst punishment you can ever give a young girl."
Mendoza remains in critical condition at Broward Health North, and court records show no charges have yet been filed against her, though authorities say they're investigating the Twitter account.
Send your story tips to the author, Terrence McCoy.
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