A woman whose dramatic rescue during Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys was caught on camera was killed this week in a hit-and-run collision, and now a man who fell in love with her while risking his life to help her is in deep mourning.
Rena Mondzioch was trapped in her home in Big Coppitt Key as the powerful Irma swept through in September.
"I was scared. I screamed to God, and I started to cry," Mondzioch told NBC 6 in an interview after her ordeal.
Two neighbors, including crocodile hunter Chris Guinto, heard the screams of Mondzioch, ran over to help her, breaking down her door as her roof was crumbling. The daring rescue was captured in a dramatic GoPro video.
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"Everybody was saying that I was her angel — I didn't believe that. But, I think, she was just mine," a tearful Guinto says.
On Sunday, 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.
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 said. "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."
On Wednesday, Florida Highway Patrol officials said they likely had found the vehicle involved in the incident. Authorities were also questioning a person of interest.
"A tip was called into the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, who responded to Summerland Key to check out a sighting of the truck possibly involved in the fatal hit and run," FHP said in a statement. "A warrant was obtained and the vehicle has been impounded as part of this on-going homicide investigation."
FHP has described the suspect as a white male in his late 20s or early 30s.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers of the Florida Keys at 1-800-346-TIPS.