Boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious crime, punishable by expensive fines, suspension of one’s boating license and worst of all, jail time. Being intoxicated while operating a maritime vessel can lead to serious accidents and injuries, some of which are fatal.
But while not every boating accident victim or their loved ones obtain justice for the wrongdoing of others, two men charged with contributing to the death of a swimmer at Pineview Reservoir in Ogden Valley, Utah were found guilty of their crimes.
Colton Raines, 23 and Robert Cole Boyer, 30, were found guilty on Thursday, after a jury determined their boat hit and killed victim Esther Fujimoto in August, 2011. The men were both found guilty of a class A misdemeanor count of obstructing justice. Raines also was found guilty of a class A misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment and a class B misdemeanor count of failure to render aid to a victim.
The boaters will be sentenced March 27, but because there was a death that resulted from the accident, they face severe penalties for their crimes.
According to the boaters, they knew they had come close to the swimmer, but did not think they had hit her. Believing Fujimoto was OK, they left the scene of the accident.
“There was no impact,” testified Raines, who was operating the vessel when the accident occurred. “There was no collision. There was no way we ran anybody over.”
However, after reading about the accident in a newspaper the following morning, the men began to think they might have in fact been responsible for the incident, but according to Fujimoto’s family, they did not seem to have any remorse for their role in Esther’s death.
“There was no remorse,” said Esther’s brother Bryan Fujimoto about the suspects’ testimonies. “There was no recognition that there was any wrongdoing on their part, and that’s what I find despicable and depraved.”
Perhaps the worst part of the incident was that Fujimoto’s death was likely due to the boaters’ intoxication. On Thursday, a woman who had been in the company of Raines and Boyer on the day of the accident testified they were intoxicated before their vessel hit Fujimoto.
The witness, Sarah Taylor, testified that six people who were on the boat had consumed an entire bottle of whipped-cream flavored vodka and that she saw both Boyer and Raines smoke marijuana.
Raines testified that he smoked cigarettes on the boat, but not marijuana, and Boyer said he never smoked marijuana or drank alcohol while on the boat.
Although no charges of boating while intoxicated have been handed down, if drugs and alcohol did in fact contribute to the fatal accident, the penalties the men are likely to suffer if convicted will be much worse.
Anyone who has been involved in an accident on a pleasure craft or because of a pilot’s negligence or crimes has the right to seek legal help. If you or someone you love was hurt or killed at the hands of a negligent boater, contact our boating accident lawyers today to discuss your options in filing a case and protecting your rights.
Photo Credits: deseretnews.com
Top Left: Pineview Boating Accident Courtroom Trial
Middle Right: Robert Cole Boyer
Bottom Left: Colton Raines