The 35-year-old boater facing charges in the death of a man on a water scooter is a local charter boat captain who was impaired and illegally speeding back to shore just before the fatal collision, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
The boat’s operator, Jesse Mayer, also had a 9-year-old girl on board, deputies said.
Mayer was arrested Monday on charges of boating under the influence manslaughter, vessel homicide, child neglect, reckless operation of a vessel and violation of navigation rules. He was taken into custody at the office of attorney Jay Hebert at 5250 Ulmerton Road and booked into the Pinellas County jail.
The incident took place at about 4:40 p.m. on Aug. 31. Robert Krysztofowicz, 56, was headed north on a Yamaha WaveRunner in a no-wake zone in the Intracoastal near Madeira Beach, deputies said. Mayer, driving a 37-foot Center Console Freeman boat, was also traveling north at speeds of 60 to 73 mph, according to the arrest report.
He struck the rear of the water scooter from behind and then drove over it, deputies said, fatally injuring Krysztofowicz.
Mayer was speeding to avoid a squall suddenly rolling in, said sheriff’s Cpl. Jessica Mackesy.
“(Mayer) was trying to go fast to outrun the storm, to get back quickly," Mackesy said. But the arrest report said Meyer took no precautions in getting back to shore: There was no lookout posted and rain was setting off the boat’s radar.
When Pinellas deputies arrived at the crash scene, they noted Mayer showed signs that he was impaired and found that a 9-year-old girl was on board with him. Her name was not released by deputies.
Mayer smelled like alcoholic beverages, the report said, and deputies noted that he had “bloodshot and glassy eyes, dilated pupils and a sway." His blood-alcohol level was measured at 0.101 and 0.102 almost three hours after the crash, the report said. Florida law prohibits operating a vehicle on land or water at 0.08 or greater.
Mayer has operated James Gang Charters out of St. John’s Pass for more than a decade, according to public records.
Krysztofowicz, of East Aurora, N.Y., had been visiting the bay area on vacation. His large family was devastated by his sudden death.
“He has always been our No. 1 support system through all we did," his daughter, Emily Krysztofowicz, 25, told the Tampa Bay Times last week.
Mayer was freed at 11 p.m. Monday from the county jail after posting $51,000 bail.