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More than a month and a half after a University of Utah lab specialist was killed in a hit-and-run boating accident at Pineview Reservoir, the Weber County Sheriff's Office have not only found the boat and identified three Ogden-area men as suspects, they also believe the three men were consuming alcohol and that two of them had smoked marijuana that afternoon on the lake.
The victim, 49-year-old Esther Fujimoto, was killed by a boat while swimming in the reservoir on the evening of Aug. 21.
According to search warrant affidavits obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune, the suspects are Skyler Shepherd, 21, Colton Raines, 22, and Cole Boyer, 29.
Shepherd, who owns the boat in question, admitted operating the boat in the Spring Creek area of Pineview where the incident happened, "but denied hitting anybody," according to the affidavits filed in 2nd District Court.
When police first spoke to Shepherd, he allowed officers to photograph the boat, which apparently had "fresh" damage to the propeller, according the affidavits. Shepherd declined to submit to a formal interview.
But a few days later, Shepherd, with his attorney, told sheriff's officers that Boyer was driving the boat at about 8 p.m. when it struck Fujimoto, according to the affidavits.
A witness who arrived at the lake with the three suspects told police that hours before the accident, at about 3:30 p.m., he observed Boyer and Raines smoke marijuana while they were on the reservoir, according to the affidavits.
Police have obtained blood samples from Boyer and Raines, which are being tested for evidence of drug use.
Investigators also learned from witnesses that "all three males had been consuming alcohol," according to the affidavits.
Police have previously said they are looking into possible criminal charges, including negligence prior to the collision, as well as leaving the scene of the accident.
The night of the accident, a witness who lives near where Fujimoto was swimming told police he heard a woman scream and went to the water to investigate, according to the affidavits. The witness said he saw a boat occupied by three males and a woman floating in the water near the boat.
The witness heard one of the men yell out, "Hey lady, are you alright, are you alright?" according to the affidavits. The witness then saw the powerboat drive away toward the middle of the reservoir.
Fujimoto was found by the witness barely conscious and floating and, according to the affidavits, by the time a patrol boat arrived Fujimoto "no longer had a heartbeat and could not be revived."
The boat's propeller apparently tore into her torso and lower abdomen, causing critical injuries, police have said.
A few days after the accident, investigators went to question Shepherd and found his boat, a 1995 green and white Regal motorboat and a boat trailer sitting in the driveway of his South Ogden home.
About two weeks later, police obtained three search warrants; one for the boat and two for blood samples. In late August, police seized Shepherd's boat and boat trailer.
Fujimoto, a University of Utah lab specialist and a breast cancer survivor, was part of the research team that found the gene connected to breast cancer. At the time of her death, she was studying nervous system development and cerebral palsy, colleagues say.
Erin Alberty contributed to this report.