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At 16, she drove drunk and killed a man. At 24, cops say she did it again

Dan Sullivan, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in News & Features

TAMPA, Fla. – Five years ago, a diminutive teenage girl with striking brown eyes stood shackled and weeping in a Tampa courtroom.

Jennifer Carvajal admitted she was drunk early one morning a few weeks shy of her 17th birthday. She admitted that she’d blown through a red light and slammed into another car, killing the driver. She admitted she’d made a terrible mistake and vowed to become a better person.

“One person paid the ultimate price for my selfish behavior,” she said.

She got five years in prison.

Last summer, Carvajal was once again in court, accused of violating probation by walking away from a substance abuse treatment facility.

“She’s dancing around a big ‘ol fire,” Judge Nick Nazaretian warned her attorney. “And she’s gonna get burned if she gets too close to that.”

 

Admonished to do better, she went back to treatment.

Two weeks ago, authorities say Carvajal was once again driving drunk. Once again, they say, she crashed and killed a man.

What happened here? The full story is yet to be told. But court and police records yield a glimpse of a tragic life full of wrong turns that also ended two other lives and left many more in pain.

A troubled child

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