ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When Dhimitri Andoni saw a vehicle swerve and then get stuck on the I-275 median Thursday night in St. Petersburg, Fla., he pulled over to the shoulder to help.
But the 22-year-old good Samaritan ended up dead after his good deed, his car stolen by the same person who allegedly mowed him down. The details:
- The suspect: After the stranded vehicle returned to the road and safely drove away, Andoni started walking back to his 2015 Hyundai. Before he got there, police say Dana Thomas Byrd, 30, fatally struck Andoni with his pickup truck. It was around 9pm, NBC News reports.
- The alleged car theft: Byrd, who was driving a 1996 Ford F-150, “stopped after the impact happened,” a Florida Highway Patrol spokesperson tells the Washington Post. “He figures out that [Andoni is] dead, gets into his car and drives off. It couldn’t be any more of a weird situation than that.”
- The evidence: Andoni had a GoPro camera in his car functioning as a dashcam, and police say it captured Byrd checking to see whether Andoni had been killed. “We have a GoPro video of basically the victim pulling over to help, getting struck, the guy stealing his car, dropping it off, the whole nine yards,” the highway patrol rep says. Police also say Byrd left his wallet inside the Hyundai when he eventually abandoned it.
- The discovery: Hours after the incident, Andoni’s father used GPS to locate his son’s car, then reported his son missing. (It’s not clear whether there were any witnesses to the crash that killed him.) Police found the Hyundai abandoned at an Engineer Sales office building parking lot two miles from the crash site, and at 3:40am Friday, the F-150 was found abandoned at the crash site. But it wasn’t until 12:30pm Friday that a Florida Department of Transportation road ranger found Andoni’s body in the median near the truck.
- The charges: Byrd was arrested at his St. Petersburg home Friday night and has been charged with grand theft auto and leaving the scene of a crash involving a death.
- The suspect: Police say Byrd, who is being held at the Pinellas County Jail on $100,000 bond, has been arrested in the county 16 other times since 2005 on charges including driving under the influence, trespassing, retail theft, criminal mischief, and more.
- The victim: Per Andoni’s LinkedIn profile, he was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in finance; per his Facebook page, he had attended the University of South Florida, People reports. A cousin says he was about to graduate USF with his accounting degree. “Dhimitri went above and beyond to … be there for his family, for me, for all of the Albanian community over here,” she tells ABC Action News. He worked at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s retail store. “He was considered a thoughtful and upbeat person, well liked by our team members,” says an aquarium rep.
- The investigation: Police are looking for witnesses, as well as the driver Andoni initially stopped to help.
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