Woman arrested in fatal wrong-way wreck - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

Woman arrested in fatal wrong-way wreck

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21-year-old Kayla Mendoza 21-year-old Kayla Mendoza
Kaitlyn Ferrante and Marisa Catronio Kaitlyn Ferrante and Marisa Catronio
Gary Catronio Gary Catronio
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WSVN) -- Authorities have taken a South Florida woman into custody nearly five months after, police said, she drove against traffic on the Sawgrass Expressway and crashed into a car head on, killing two young women.

Twenty-one-year-old Kayla Maria Mendoza was brought to the Broward County Jail, Monday afternoon. She arrived by ambulance because she still has not recovered from the injuries she sustained in the Nov. 17 wreck.

Florida Highway Patrol officials said Mendoza left a Coral Springs bar after a night of drinking. Investigators said Mendoza was traveling westbound on an eastbound lane of the Sawgrass Expressway at a high rate of speed. They said she forced several drivers to swerve out of the way when she plowed into the victims' red Toyota Camry.

Marisa Catronio and Kaitlyn Ferrante, both 21, were inside the red sedan. Both women perished shortly after the accident. Mendoza suffered a brain injury and broken legs.

Investigators said Mendoza tweeted out, "2 Drunk 2 Care" shortly before the head-on collision. Troopers said she had a .15 blood alcohol level, which is well above the legal limit.

According to her arrest warrant, Mendoza could face charges including DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and driving without a license.

Before being taken to jail, medics took Mendoza to Broward Health Medical Center, where doctors examined her.

The parents of both victims stood outside the Broward County Jail and watched as Mendoza, her face covered by a black sheet, was wheeled inside in a gurney. "We both, as families, want to go and look [at her] get put away," said Christine Ferrante, Kaitlyn's mother.

This was the first time members of the victims' family had seen Mendoza in person. "I wanted her to see us, I wanted her to see our faces," said Christine.

Marisa Catronio's father said he is hopeful justice will be served. "This is a day [I've] long waited for," said Gary Catronio. "I'm just hoping that justice does its part and gets this right."

At one point, several family members began recording the moment on cell phone video. "I don't ever want her to see the sunshine, ever," said Christine. "I want her to stay locked away forever."

"She changed the lives of our family forever," said Gary as he fought back tears. "She took my baby girl, she took my wife's best friend, she took my kids' older sister away."

"I wanted to cry, but I didn't want to give her my tears," said Christine.

Gary said his daughter is constantly on his mind. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about Marisa," he said. "The first thing I do when I get in car is to make the sign of the cross on her picture before I drive. I say good morning to her and I talk to her, and when I'm feeling weak, I ask her to give me a little more power and strength to try to get through the day."

Christine said of Mendoza, "I was happy she's gone, because she belongs behind those bars, but it's not going to bring my daughter back."

Both families even waited an additional hour to watch Mendoza be moved from the main jail to the North Broward Bureau, a minimum to medium security detention facility in Pompano Beach that specializes in injured inmates.

Mendoza remains behind bars and has been set a bond of $600,000. A judge has also ruled she be fitted with a monitoring device after bond is posted. She will likely make her first court appearance sometime on Tuesday.

Marisa's father said he will be meeting with state lawmakers in Tallahassee on Wednesday to lobby for highway safety reform. He said he doesn't want another family to go through this ordeal.
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