Exclusive: New Details On Accused Wrong Way Drunk Driver
South Florida Crime
CORAL SPRINGS (CBSMiami) – Just days after suspected wrong way drunk driver Kayla Mendoza was arrested and charged with DUI Manslaughter and several other charges in the deaths of Marisa Catronio and Kaitlyn Ferrante, CBS 4 News is learning new information about Mendoza’s actions the night before the crash.
According to a receipt from the Tijuana Taxi Company, which was filed as part of the civil lawsuit brought by the victim’s families against Mendoza and the restaurant, Mendoza had about $50 worth of drinks at the restaurant from 10:15 pm until 12:22 am on November 16-17th. The documents filed by the restaurant in response to the lawsuit show that Mendoza was at the restaurant with about half a dozen other people.
The receipt shows that the then 20-year-old Mendoza drank two large house margaritas and had two other drinks of Patron Silver tequila. The receipt shows a payment of $65.78. The receipt does not show that Mendoza ate anything. There is nothing in civil court file at this point regarding how Mendoza — who was underage at the time — was able to get served alcohol at the restaurant.
CBS 4 News reached Mendoza’s criminal attorney, John Trevena, regarding the information about Mendoza’s actions leading up to the crash. Trevena said that the case is in its’ infancy but that the information “is helpful information regarding our defense of involuntary intoxication because her supervisor was at the Tijuana Taxi with her.”
The Florida Highway Patrol says at some point that night or the next morning Mendoza tweeted “too drunk to care.” Around 1:45 in the morning 911 calls poured in reporting a head on collision on the Sawgrass Expressway. Mendoza is accused of driving the wrong way and slamming into a car with Ferrante and Catronio inside, killing them.
FHP says Mendoza’s blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit. Mendoza suffered several injuries and was wheeled into jail on Monday when she was arrested for DUI Manslaughter, Vehicular Homicide and Driving without a License Causing Death.
We are also hearing from Mendoza in her own words. In a letter she wrote to the judge in her civil case while acting as her own attorney, Mendoza said she is having “financial hardships” and cannot find a lawyer to defend her. She also said that she has extensive injuries including “a subdural hemorrhage,” “an open fracture of the femur” an “altered mental status” and an “open fracture of the upper end of the fibula.”
While Mendoza sits in jail, the family’s of the victims in the crash continue to work to make our roads safer despite their overwhelming loss. Marisa Catronio’s father Gary spent time in Tallahassee this week speaking to students about preventing wrong way crashes. Catronio is working to have flashing “wrong way” signs installed on Florida’s roads and he recently learned that the Florida Department of Transportation will place the signs at five on-ramps in Coral Springs near the accident sight as part of a pilot program.
“When it comes to driving and being impaired or even using substances make the right decision because it’s gonna change lives forever,” Catronio reminded the students.
Mendoza remains locked up on $600-thousand dollars bond.