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2 Pineview boaters given maximum sentences in death of swimmer

Published: Wednesday, March 27 2013 4:45 p.m. MDT

Esther Fujimoto

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OGDEN — Two men who left the scene of a Pineview Reservoir boating accident that left one woman dead were given maximum jail sentences Wednesday.

Colton Raines, 23, and Robert Boyer, 30, who were found guilty of various crimes in a February jury trial, will each spend time in jail as well as pay restitution.

Raines was ordered to spend 2 ½ years behind bars and pay more than $3,000 for reckless endangerment, obstructing justice and failure to provide assistance at an accident, all misdemeanors. Boyer, who was found guilty of a single misdemeanor obstructing justice charge, will spend 365 days in jail.

The maximum sentences were delivered by 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones, who described the men's actions as "callous, with reckless disregard for human life."

Raines and Boyer were convicted of being involved in the death of 49-year-old Esther Fujimoto, who died Aug. 11, 2011, from injuries sustained while she was swimming in the Spring Creek area of the popular recreation lake in Ogden Valley. Raines was driving the boat that ran over Fujimoto.

Skyler Shepherd, 23, who took control of the boat and drove away from Fujimoto after the accident, was found guilty in a separate trial and is serving a 2 ½-year jail sentence for reckless endangerment, obstructing justice and failure to give assistance at an accident — the same crimes for which Raines was found guilty in February and sentenced for on Wednesday.

Boyer was a passenger on the boat at the time of the accident.

The men previously testified that they did not know Fujimoto was injured when their boat hit her. They claimed to never have heard screams, although a man in a home 300 feet away from where the accident occurred came to the woman's rescue, called police and held Fujimoto afloat as she died.

A medical examiner told the court that Fujimoto, a University of Utah scientist and researcher, received "multiple chopping injuries" consistent with being struck by a propeller and ultimately bled to death.

Jones has been strict with the men, calling them "spineless" and their actions "incomprehensible."

The courtroom was packed with friends and family from both sides, waiting to hear the sentences. Ultimately, Jones said it was the use of alcohol and drugs on the day of the accident that led to the decision by all three men aboard the boat to cover up the truth.

Not everyone agreed with the sentences, including Raines' cousin, Marsha Winter, who thought the men got a "raw deal."

"It killed me. It kills me because I know what a good kid he is," Winter said.

She is convinced the men are innocent and is angry and frustrated with what they have had to deal with since the accident. "You know what? She had no business. She brought this, she brought this on herself by swimming where she shouldn't be swimming," Winter said of the victim.

Fujimoto was outside the swimming area, wearing a dark wetsuit.

Brian Fujimoto, the dead woman's brother, said the punishment fits the crime and he has not seen any contrition by the three men. He said Wednesday was not a day of celebration for his family.

"This is a day of broken hearts," he said. "There's no victory."

Since the deadly accident, the Utah Legislature has amended the law to make leaving the scene of a boating accident resulting in serious injury or death a third-degree felony, which carries heavier penalties that what the men received.

Contributing: Mike Anderson

E-mail: wleonard@deseretnews.com

Twitter: wendyleonards

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