Florida Highway Patrol on Tuesday said it has made an arrest in the hit-and-run death of a Florida Keys woman whose dramatic rescue during Hurricane Irma was captured on video.
Late at night on Nov. 25, Nehama Rena Mondzioch was struck by a hit-and-run driver after leaving work in Ramrod Key. The 42-year-old was riding a bicycle in a bike lane along the road on U.S. 1 near Mile Marker 27 when she was struck and killed.
Kevin Michael O'Connor faces one felony count of failure to stop at the site of a crash involving death. Bond was set at $50,000.
Months before the tragedy, a blossoming love story began with a daring rescue.
Mondzioch was trapped in her home in Big Coppitt Key as the powerful Irma swept through in September.
Two neighbors, including crocodile hunter Chris Guinto, heard Mondzioch's screams, ran over to help her – breaking down her door as her roof was crumbling. The rescue was captured in a dramatic GoPro video.
Guinto said the best times of his life involved her. He said he started falling in love with Mondzioch and the two were planning for a new life.
"There's no words. There’s no words. Best times of my life –meeting her ... Irma, and we were together pretty much the entire time," Guinto told NBC 6 in late November. "She was extremely strong, not just female, but person I ever met. We were gonna move, leave the Keys, start somewhere new, just to get away. Something, somewhere, didn't matter."
FHP Cpl. Clifford Fisher in his statement of probable cause for an arrest wrote that O'Connor "purchased five 'Rasputin Nitro' beers and a Jack Daniels whiskey" at a bar on Cudjoe Key before hitting Mondzioch.
About one minute after fatally striking Mondzioch, O'Connor quickly pulled up into the parking lot of the Looe Key Tiki Bar, where an employee went up to his Chevrolet Silverado, Fisher wrote.
The employee, who worked as a witness with police, knocked on the driver's side door and attempted to get O'Connor's attention.
"None other than O'Connor was in the truck, and O'Connor was hunched over the steering wheel," Fisher wrote, recounting the witness' statement. "Ultimately, [the witness] opened the driver's side door and spoke with O'Connor. [He] told O'Connor that he had been in a crash. During that conversation, O'Connor said he 'didn't hit any people,' and he was '------ up.'"
As the employee walked away to call 911, O'Connor turned the truck's lights off, pulled out of the parking lot and drove away, Fisher added.
Guinto has since mourned the loss of the woman with whom he fell in love.
"There are no words to express how sorry I am Rena. I am haunted by a tormenting guilt that I will carry the rest of my life. The short time we spent together seemed to of spanned a lifetime," Guinto wrote on Facebook. "They were the best days of my life. I was looking forward to spending the rest our lives together on that shag rug in front of that fireplace in our mountain cabin just forgetting about the rest of the world with all the abundance we could ever have. I am completely dead inside. I will love you forever."