Witness who called 911 testifies in boating death case

Posted at 11:38 AM, Dec 11, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-11 20:23:44-05

OGDEN, Utah -- A witness who called 911 took the stand in the second day of a trial against a man accused of leaving a woman to die in Pineview Reservoir.

Photo: Skyler Shepherd

Skyler Shepherd, 22, is facing misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment, obstruction of justice and failure to render aid. He is one of three men charged in connection with Esther Fujimoto’s death after she was struck by a boat propeller.

Fujimoto, a University of Utah researcher, was swimming in Pineview Reservoir on Aug. 21, 2011, when prosecutors allege she was struck by Shepherd’s boat

Vaughn Anderson made the 911 call and testified Tuesday. He testified that he saw three people in a boat asked her twice if she was okay, and then they had taken off.

Anderson rowed out to Fujimoto after hearing her scream for help.

“A lady’s been hit by a boat,” Anderson said on the 911 call. “I heard her. I saw the boat that done it and they left her!”

As emergency dispatchers talked to him, Anderson said he could not pull Fujimoto into his rowboat because it would capsize. He held onto her as she was bleeding in the water.

“She’s cut up bad,” Anderson said as he tried to talk to Fujimoto.

“It was three guys. They was asking, ‘Hey lady are you OK?’ ” he told the dispatcher. “And then they left. They left!”

Defense attorneys argue that Shepherd and two other men on the boat, Colton Raines and Cole Boyer, asked Fujimoto if she was okay and she responded that she was okay and that is why they left. The men thought they had missed her, according to defense attorneys.

Also taking the stand is a first responder. Prosecutors said if the men had called for help, assistance could have been on the scene in about two minutes. Prosecutors said any amount of help could have helped save Fujimoto.

The trial is expected to wrap up by Thursday.

Related: Trial begins for boater accused of leaving woman to die