Nearly 2 years after Tampa Bay boat crash leaves jet skier dead, family and friends fight for justice

Pinellas County

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) -A boater accused of hitting and killing a man on a jet ski in 2019 while drunk and speeding through no-wake zones is set to make an appearance in court on Thursday.

Jesse Mayer, 35, was arrested in connection with the Aug. 30 crash that killed Robert Krysztofowicz. It happened in the Intracoastal Waterways, north of the Tom Stuart Causeway in Madeira Beach.

Mayer bonded out on Sept. 9, 2019, just six hours after being booked.

Now fast forward a year and nine months, 25 people are flying across the country Wednesday night from Buffalo, New York to Tampa Bay to fight for justice for the man who died.

On Thursday morning a hearing will be held for Mayer at the Pinellas County Justice Center.

An arrest report released by the sheriff’s office says Mayer was driving his 37-foot Catamaran-style boat recklessly at the time of the crash, going 60 to 73 mph through no-wake zones during severe weather without a lookout. Deputies say he ultimately hit Krysztofowicz, who was on a personal watercraft.

Arrest reports show deputies noted an odor of alcohol on his breath, bloodshot and glassy eyes, dilated pupils and a sway. The arrest reports also say Mayer’s blood alcohol concentration was .102 almost three hours after the crash happened.

“He was so proud of his artwork so these are all his little things that we hung up,” said Trisha and Mark Nowak. The Nowak’s live in North Redington Beach part-time and up north in Buffalo part-time and say Krysztofowicz was visiting them with his family when the crash happened.

“I was riding alongside Rob and a boat came through at a high rate of speed, Rob never knew what hit him,” said Mark Nowak who said he heard and saw everything, he said he was on a jet ski about 100 feet away.

Now the Nowak’s have Krysztofowicz’s art hanging in their home, they said he’s a family man and friend to many.

“He made this wind chime for us,” Trisha Nowak said pointing to a colorful piece hanging from their ceiling. “He was always joking, always happy, fun-loving, energetic, go-getter to do things,” said Mark Nowak.

But the Nowak’s said their friend’s life was cut short riding a jet ski on labor day weekend in September 2019.

“We understand with COVID and everything that happened we understand there were delays. But it has been a year and nine months. It’s just been long enough that Rob has been silenced. We really want to be Rob’s voice,” said the Nowak’s.

According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office website, Mayer bonded out of jail 6 hours after being booked in. Mayer is facing a felony with 5 charges including boating under the influence manslaughter, vessel homicide, and child neglect. The Nowak’s said Mayer was the captain of a local boat charter and had his daughter on the boat at the time of the crash.

8 On Your Side asked Sgt. Blair what you can do if you’re on a jet ski to avoid potentially dangerous boat drivers.

“Treat the channel like US-19, like a highway,” said Sgt. Ron Blair with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Marine and Environmental Lands Unit. “Always keep your head on a swivel, know your surroundings, know where the boats are around you, and make sure you’re always wearing a life jacket.”

Mark Nowak is fearful with Mayer still bonded out that others could be in harm’s way.

“It’s been long enough. We care. We understand the problems with covid, but it’s been long enough. His friends want closure, his family, his wife, kids, his mom,” said Nowak.

Mayer’s hearing is Thursday at 8:30 am at the Pinellas County Justice Center.

Part of the 25 people flying in from Buffalo, New York include Rob’s wife and three daughters who the Nowak’s said are all in their 20’s.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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