Following a week in which Kayla Mendoza catapulted from obscure pothead to international notoriety after New Times reported she tweeted "2 drunk 2 care" hours before allegedly causing a late-night collision that killed two young women, members of Mendoza's family have offered their first public comment on the tragedy.
Was her Twitter actually hacked?
They told New Times her entire Twitter feed -- which teems with allusions to drug and alcohol abuse and has sparked outrage from Miami to London -- is a sham. Someone hacked her account, they claim, planting most if not all of her more than 5,000 tweets.
"We can't say who is hacking her account, but if I knew her password I would shut it down," cousin Luis Massey told New Times yesterday afternoon. "All we can say is that someone is posting lies on there. It's slander on her Twitter. It's heinous, and whoever hacked it is very sad, that they would post such annoying comments."
Massey said he went to Broward Health North on Sunday and visited Mendoza, who calls herself the "pothead princess" on Twitter. Her condition has stabilized, he said, though she may never be the same. "She escaped the wreck in tatters," Massey said. "She has many injuries. She has woken up, but she has had some head trauma."
Massey declined to specify whether Mendoza has suffered brain damage. "She was not spared the wrath of the cars interlocking," he said.
Massey pointed out that details involving the crash remain unknown: Was Mendoza drunk or high when she pulled her Hyundai Sonata onto the Sawgrass Expressway last Saturday going the wrong way? Where had she been that night? Were the young women she struck -- Kaitlyn Ferrante and Marisa Catronio -- inebriated in any way?
As of last night, authorities still hadn't charged Mendoza with any crime. Asked whether any charges were forthcoming against her, Florida Highway Patrol spokesperson Mark Wysocky told New Times, "Not anytime soon."
So yesterday afternoon, Massey expressed frustration that most readers, confronted with the overwhelming evidence that Mendoza had perhaps used drugs habitually, immediately convicted Mendoza in the public domain -- without having all the facts.
"People need to know that she's no monster," he said. "I've known her my whole life, and people are trying to make her look like a junkie. She's a respectable, honest, loving person."
There's reason to believe, Massey claimed, that the other women involved in the crash had played some part in horrific accident. "My family believes that," Massey said. "No one has yet taken any steps to investigate what the other two women were doing that night. We don't believe that anyone here was truly innocent. These women may have had their secrets too, or maybe not."
But Mendoza's Twitter feed shows a life before the accident that was anything but secret. She tweeted exhaustively, exposing every bit of herself, regardless of consequences. She likewise surrounded herself with people who conveyed a similar social media identity.
A man identified as her boyfriend on Twitter, Javier Reyes, who didn't respond to a request for comment, says he's from "Stoner Island," adding, "Reefer is my teacher."
Send your story tips to the author, Terrence McCoy.