CORAL SPRINGS (CBSMiami) – Javier Reyes knows that many people have made up their minds about his girlfriend, Kaila Mendoza, based on her seemingly callous tweets and her suspected involvement in a deadly wrong way crash on the Sawgrass Expressway in the early morning hours of November 17 that killed two women.
But Reyes says that to him and her friends, Mendoza is about much more.
“She is a warm — like I said — hard-working, energetic, lovable person,” Reyes said.
The Florida Highway Patrol suspects that Mendoza was driving the wrong way when she slammed into a car with Marisa Catronio and Kaitlyn Ferrante inside. Catronio died on the scene while Kaitlyn succumbed days later. Before the crash, Mendoza tweeted “2 drunk 2 care.” Reyes says the tweet was directed at him because the couple was in the midst of an argument.
“I understand how anyone looking outside would interpret it because I see that but what people don’t understand is that tweet was directed toward me,” Reyes told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “2 drunk 2 care” about my feelings, about me being a little possessive, jealous.”
Reyes told CBS 4 News that he doesn’t know if Mendoza was drinking. He says he got off work early on November 16th and planned to surprise her at home and was upset she was out with friends. He also said he didn’t know that Mendoza did not have a driver’s license. He wouldn’t comment on the investigation into the crash but he believes Mendoza’s tweet was taken out of context.
“The way the news manipulated her tweet was not only senile but grotesque, malevolent,” he said. “There’s really no word that can describe what that tweet did to her life.”
But it’s what Mendoza is suspected to have done to the members of the Catronio and Ferrante families that could leave her facing serious criminal charges.
“I’m extremely sorry,” he said. “I’m extremely sorry. At least I got to see her again. I can’t fathom that thought of you guys not being able to see them again. And I know that’s heart-wrenching and I know it’s hard as hell.”
A Florida Highway Patrol report obtained by CBS 4 News shows that Mendoza operated her car in an “erratic, reckless or aggressive manner” and she is suspected to have been using alcohol. She was tested for both alcohol and drugs. A witness told CBS 4 News that Mendoza was driving the wrong way for several miles and narrowly avoided hitting at least 20 cars and trucks.
The families of Marisa Catronio and Kaitlyn Ferrante are struggling to survive their grief. In an interview earlier this week, Gary Catronio said he is determined to see additional safety measures on the entrances and exits to highways in order to prevent another family from suffering the way his family and the Ferrante family have suffered.
“It’s very important so that families don’t have to go through what we did,” he said. “I will never see grandchildren from my daughter. Do you understand that? Never.”
The Florida Highway Patrol says they continue to investigate all aspects of this crash and no charges have been filed at this point. FHP says the investigation could take several months.
Reyes said Mendoza has a blood clot on her brain and her stepfather told CBS 4 News that doctors fear she might have suffered brain damage. Reyes said Mendoza also has two badly broken legs. Reyes says he plans to be there for Mendoza when she eventually leaves the hospital.
“I’m still going to stand by her because I love her with all of my heart,” Reyes said.
Reyes admits that the photos of marijuana and tweets about drinking and drugs do not cast Mendoza in the best light. But he says there is much more to the 20-year-old like her desire to become a teacher and her success at her job and in school. He does not believe Mendoza has a substance abuse problem.
“Those are past and that’s what we were leaving behind us,” he said. “That’s what we were trying to leave behind us. It catched (sic) up to us.”
The victim’s families continue to hold fundraisers to try and raise money to pay for the victims’ funerals. The families have set up accounts for both victims of the crash. To donate to Ferrante’s fund, click here and to donate to Catronio’s fund, click here.