NORTH REDINGTON BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) — The man who ran over and killed Robert Krysztofowicz while he was riding a jet ski near Madeira Beach in 2019 has now been found guilty of vessel homicide.
It’s a moment the Erie County man’s family and friends have been waiting for after three years and eight months.
“As long as he’s off the water and the water is a little safer today than it was yesterday,” said Krysztofowicz’s best friend Mark Nowack.
In 2019, Nowack went out for a ride on a jet ski with Krysztofowicz, never thinking only one of them would come back alive.
“It was devastating,” Nowack said. “It’s really hard for me to talk about.”
Deputies say Jesse Mayer was recklessly driving a 37-foot boat, going 60 to 73 mph through no-wake zones during severe weather.
That’s when Nowack turned around, a moment he will never forget.
“It was devastating to see your best friend get ran over by a 37-foot boat going 73 miles per hour—never knew what hit him,” he explained.
Since then, the battle has been in the courtroom as Krysztofowicz’s family and friends flew back and forth from Buffalo, New York, never missing a chance to tell his story.
“It has been an excruciating, brutal past 3½ years,” Krysztofowicz’s daughter, Emily Krysztofowicz, said. “We have been coming down here for all of these pre-trial hearings delay after delay after delay. It was really hard.”
Emily remembers when she got the news back in 2019 like it was yesterday.
“I basically blacked out [and] fell to the floor screaming and crying,” she said. “I couldn’t believe something like this could happen while they were on vacation.”
“It was absolutely devastating,” she continued.
On Monday, a jury found Mayer not guilty of boating under the influence, but guilty of vessel homicide, giving Krysztofowicz’s friends and family some relief.
“It just felt like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders and that justice was finally served for my dad,” Emily said.
Nexstar’s 8 On Your Side asked Nowack how she felt about the guilty verdict.
“Relief,” he responded. “I did a lot of praying over the last three years and eight months.”
“Just a lot of relief,” Nowack later continued.
Krysztofowicz’s friends and family hung a sign outside of Nowack’s home saying “Jesse Mayer; guilty; vessel homicide.”
On Tuesday morning, they realized they weren’t alone.
The homeowners across the channel raised a smiley face flag, a symbol Krysztofowicz was known for. He also made and sold stained glass art at Western New York artisan markets.
A second-degree felony charge of vessel homicide is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and with a fine of up to $10,000.
Krysztofowicz’s friends and family say they’ll be flying down from Buffalo once again for Mayer’s sentencing in late June or early July.