Pineview boating accident suspects in court

Posted at 4:18 PM, Mar 07, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-08 02:27:11-05

Three suspects charged in connection with the Aug. 2011 of a swimmer of Pineview Reservoir were in court on Wednesday.

49-year-old Esther Fujimoto, a lab specialist at the University of Utah, was swimming in open waters in the Pineview Reservoir on Aug. 21, 2011, when she was struck and killed by a boat driven by Cole Boyer, Skyler Shepherd and Colton Raines, who deputies suggest left Fujimoto to die after striking her with the boat’s propeller.

Raines and Shepherd have been charged with reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor, obstructing justice, a class A misdemeanor, and failure to render aid, a class B misdemeanor.

Boyer has been charged with obstructing justice, a class A misdemeanor.

Denice Fujimoto, the victim's sister, faced the three men for the first time on Wednesday. She called the moment unnerving.

"I can't look at them," she said.

Brooke Gaynes, Fujimoto's friend, says that the misdemeanor charges don't fit the crime.

"I don't think anyone could agree that a misdemeanor fits what happened. We're just trying to get some justice for Esther," said Gaynes.

Wednesday's hearing took just a few minutes. The suspects are due back in court at the end of April to decide if they'll have a preliminary hearing, and that will decide whether the case goes to trial.

The Utah State Senate passed a bill this week making it a felony to leave the scene of a boating accident; legislation that passed following weeks of political feuding.