SALT LAKE CITY — A bill to make boaters wait for emergency help if they hit someone in the water unanimously passed the House Transportation Committee on Friday and will now go to the full House.
HB92 comes after Esther Fujimoto was hit and killed by a boat on Pineview Reservoir on Aug. 21, 2011 while swimming 200 to 300 feet offshore. Witnesses reported three men in the boat stopped and appeared to talk to Fujimoto shortly after the accident but then left the scene of the accident and did not return.
Rep. Richard Greenwood, R-Roy, sponsored the bill that requires boaters who have “reason to believe” they may have been involved in an accident to remain at the scene. The bill makes it a third-degree felony if someone does not stop at the accident scene and causes serious bodily injury or death. It would be a class A misdemeanor if someone is injured in the accident.
Fujimoto's friend Brooke Gaynes welcomes the proposal. “When I was telling my co-workers about it, we were surprised there’s already not something like this,” she said.
Drivers on the road already have a law just like this, so Gaynes says it makes sense to extend it to boaters.
“It would be nice to have a law to make sure that when something like this happens it’s a little more clear what to do and what you, as a civilian, is responsible to do,” she said.
Fujimoto's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against three men who allegedly struck her.
Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc