Kayla Mendoza, the 21-year-old woman who tweeted out "2 drunk 2 care" before driving a Hyundai Sonata the wrong way on the Sawgrass Expressway and crashing into a 2012 Toyota Camry, killing two people, has been sentenced to 24 years in prison, plus six years' probation.
Citing her showing remorse, the judge declined to give her the maximum sentence of 30 years. Mendoza also had her driving privileges revoked for the rest of her life.
Mendoza heard emotional statements from friends and family of the victims during Monday's sentencing after giving her own emotional, apologetic statement. The statements, most delivered through tears and sobs, pleaded with the judge to make an example of Mendoza so that similar tragedies can be avoided. A video montage of photos of the victims was also shown in the courtroom.
Mendoza pleaded guilty to two charges of DUI manslaughter in the deaths of Kaitlyn Ferrante and Marisa Catronio in Fort Lauderdale in February.
Back in November 2013, New Times reported about Mendoza driving her Hyundai Sonata onto the Sawgrass Expressway going the wrong way and crashing into the Toyota Camry the victims were riding in. Hours before the accident, Mendoza, who was 20 at the time, tweeted out "2 drunk 2 care."
Mendoza's family told New Times at the time that her Twitter account had been hacked. The family later deleted the account.
Months later, a search warrant filed by the Florida Highway Patrol revealed that Mendoza had a blood-alcohol reading of .15 — nearly twice the legal limit — when she plowed into the victims' car on the night of November 17.
The warrant also says Mendoza had traces of marijuana in her system.
New Times also reported that, according to sworn affidavits, witnesses told FHP investigators that Mendoza had drinks at Tijuana Taxi Co. in Coral Springs with coworkers before driving onto the Sawgrass Expressway that night.
Witnesses also told FHP they saw Mendoza driving fast into oncoming traffic, causing cars to swerve out of the way.
Following her hospital stay, Mendoza was arrested and 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.
Mendoza's fiancé claimed that the "2 drunk 2 care" tweet was directed at him. Before the account was deleted, Mendoza's Twitter feed was filled with the typical rantings of a young woman. But it also chronicled drug use.
In a televised interview with Inside Edition, Mendoza claimed to not even remember driving onto the Sawgrass. "How I ended up on the Sawgrass Expressway, I wish I knew," she said.
In April of last year, Broward Judge John "Jay" Hurley set Mendoza's bond at $600,000, though the families of Catronio and Ferrante had pleaded with him to deny bond.
"Kayla Mendoza killed my sister, and I don't think it's at all fair for her to be set free and have any bond," Ashley Ferrante, the sister of one of the girls killed in the collision, told Hurley during that court appearance.