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FT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – Accused wrong-way driver Kayla Mendoza changed her plea to guilty Wednesday morning to two counts of DUI Manslaughter.
“I just want to tell you how sorry I am,” Mendoza told the families of the two women she killed as she wiped away a tear.
She once referred to herself as the “Pothead Princess.” Wednesday a different, remorseful, Mendoza admitted guilt for driving drunk, the wrong way, on the Sawgrass expressway in November of 2013.
Mendoza’s blood alcohol level was nearly twice the legal limit when she slammed into a car carrying 21-year old Kaitlyn Nicole Ferrante and 21-year old Marisa Caran Catronio, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Both women died.
“It’s my fault. One mistake changed all of our lives. One stupid mistake and I’m sorry,” said Mendoza as she apologized to Ferrante’s and Catronio’s families.
“It’s hard to even look at you because of all the pain that I have caused. I just want you to know that I sincerely apologize and if I could trade with them I would,” said Mendoza.
Catronio’s brother Jessie did not want to hear it. He turned his back while Mendoza spoke.
“I’m sorry and I pray that one day you will forgive me,” said Mendoza. “I just want to you to know that every day I think of them.”
Mendoza made an open plea to the judge will be sentenced at a later dates.
Mendoza could receive as much as 30 years in prison but her attorney said he plans to ask for significantly less time.
In an interview after the accident, Mendoza said she has no recollection of driving on the highway or the crash.
“And when I found out that not only did I get into an accident but the two girls that I got into the accident with passed away, it just really made me wonder why I didn’t too,” said Mendoza. “Those beautiful girls are not here anymore and it’s because of me.”
Mendoza does recall going out with drinks with co-workers the night of accident. At the time, she was only 20-years old. The receipt from Tijuana Taxi shows the underage 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.
The Florida Highway Patrol says at some point that night or the next morning Mendoza tweeted “2 drunk 2 care.”
Mendoza said the tweet has been taken out of context. She said it didn’t mean that she was going to get behind the wheel and whatever happened, happened. Instead, she said, it was meant for her boyfriend because the two had just recently argued.