OGDEN — The sister of the woman who died after being struck by a boat while swimming in Pineview Reservoir in August has filed a wrongful death suit against the three men she believes are responsible.
Esther Fujimoto, 49, died the evening of Aug. 21 after a boat propeller cut into her torso and abdomen while she was swimming in the reservoir.
Three men — one driver and two passengers — were in the boat, which sped off and left Fujimoto to die, according to the lawsuit.
Denice Fujimoto, the victim’s sister, filed the wrongful death lawsuit in 2nd District Court on Oct. 28 and names Cole Boyer, Skyler Shepherd and Colton Raines as the men in the boat. All three live in Weber County.
Shepherd owned the boat that Boyer was driving at the time they hit the swimmer, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also states that all three had been drinking and that Boyer and Raines had been smoking marijuana before the boat hit Esther Fujimoto.
“A witness on the beach heard the defendants yell out, ‘Hey, lady, are you alright?’ ” and said the defendants talked to the victim but did not offer her aid, the lawsuit reads. Instead, it states, the three left the scene.
A witness tried to reach the victim in his own boat, but Esther Fujimoto died before he could help her, the lawsuit states.
According to the lawsuit, the three men were negligently and recklessly operating the boat, failed to keep a proper lookout, drove too close to Esther Fujimoto and failed to help her.
“(Their) acts and omissions were the direct and proximate cause of (Esther Fujimoto’s) death and of the harms and losses suffered by (her sister), her heirs and estate,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit does not specify the amount of monetary damages the family is seeking. The money would at least cover the family’s funeral, medical and legal expenses.
The lawsuit also demands a jury trial. A court date has not been set.
Attorney Greg Skordas represents two of the defendants and told the Standard-Examiner in August that the death was an unfortunate accident.
The Weber County Sheriff’s Office seized the boat believed to have hit the victim Aug. 30. The sheriff’s office also obtained blood samples from Raines and Boyer to test for illegal substances.
Last month, Weber County Attorney Dee Smith told the Standard-Examiner the case is still under investigation with no timetable on possible charges. He said officials were waiting for test results on the blood samples, as well as “other evidence,” to come back from the state crime lab.
Esther Fujimoto was a molecular biologist and a senior lab specialist in the University of Utah’s Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy.
She was researching the development of the central nervous system. She was seeking a cure for cerebral palsy and was also part of a research team that identified a breast cancer gene.