CORAL SPRINGS (CBSMiami) – The families of the two women killed in a wrong way crash on the Sawgrass Expressway last month have filed lawsuits against the driver and the owner of the car she was driving. The Catronio and Ferrante families along with their attorneys announced the filings of the lawsuits against Kaila Mendoza and Federico Javier Reyes this afternoon.
Gary Catronio says every so often it hits him — his daughter Marisa will never again walk through the door of the family’s Coral Springs home and that Kaitlyn Ferrante will never again give her mom Christine a hug.
“She’s not coming home,” Catronio said. “This is real.”
The best friends were killed last month on the Sawgrass Expressway when they were hit by a wrong way driver. The Florida Highway Patrol says Kaila Mendoza hit and killed them. These two families hope their lawsuits against Mendoza and their efforts to make safety changes on our highways will ensure a crash like this never happens again.
“That is our mission,” said Christine Ferrante. “That this never happens to any other family ever again. Because the pain is indescribable.”
Catronio said their mission must be accomplished.
“That other families are not gonna go thru what we did,” he said. “They’re not gonna get a call at 5 in the morning saying your daughter’s no longer with you.”
The lawsuit names Reyes as a defendant because he owned the car Mendoza was driving. Reyes told CBS 4 News in an exclusive interview last week that he allowed Mendoza to drive his car and that he was unaware she did not have a license. In our interview he apologized to the victim’s families.
“I’m extremely sorry,” Reyes told CBS 4’s Carey Codd. “I’m extremely sorry. At least I got to see (Kaila) again. I can’t fathom that thought of you guys not being able to see them again.”
Reyes said he didn’t know if Mendoza had been drinking before the crash. Attorneys say one of the ways they’ll be able to get answers like that is by filing a lawsuit and interviewing witnesses.
“We want to know what happened,” said attorney Brett Panter. “We want to know what this young girl was doing 24 hours before this terrible wrong way accident.”
Neither the families nor the lawyers would comment on these videos of Kaila Mendoza on the social media site Vine entitled Beer and Wake n Bake. They also wouldn’t speak directly about the infamous “2 drunk 2 care” tweet on Mendoza’s Twitter page from just hours before the crash.
The families are focused on preventing another wrong way crash and on coping with the losses of two vibrant, happy children who had their entire lives ahead of them.
“How do you put a smile on your face and do your job when inside you’re broken up and torn?” Catronio said. “If you take that building and put it on your shoulders then maybe you’d understand a little bit of our pain.”
The attorneys say they hope these lawsuits take them down other paths to new information such as if Kaila Mendoza was drinking where was she? Could someone else also be held accountable for serving alcohol to a minor?
The Florida Highway Patrol says they still do not have the toxicology reports back to reveal if Kaila Mendoza was drinking. No charges have been filed at this point but a crash report shows that FHP suspects Mendoza may have been drinking before the crash.
Reyes said the accident left Mendoza with a blood clot on her brain and two badly broken legs. Mendoza’s stepfather told CBS 4 News that doctors fear she may have brain damage.