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Weber County prosecutors on Friday announced plans to charge three men in the death of a University of Utah scientist last August at Pineview Reservoir.
Colton Raines, 22; Cole Boyer, 22; and Skyler Shepherd, 21, will be charged with misdemeanor counts in connection with the death of Esther Fujimoto on Aug. 21, according to the Weber County Attorney's Office. No charges had been filed as of Friday afternoon.
All three men will be charged with a class A misdemeanor of obstructing justice. Raines and Shepherd also face a class A misdemeanor of reckless endangerment and class B misdemeanor count of failure to render aid.
Fujimoto, 49, died after a boat propeller tore into her torso and lower abdomen while she was swimming in the reservoir, police have said.
A class A misdemeanor carries a possible penalty of up to one year in jail. A class B misdemeanor carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail.
Fujimoto's sister has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the men, claiming the men had been drinking and smoking marijuana when their boat hit Fujimoto.
An attorney for Boyer and Raines earlier this month answered the allegations by saying the injuries were caused by her "own negligence, which outweighed that of the defendants, if any."
Attorney Greg Skordas, who represents the men in both the civil and criminal matters, wrote that Fujimoto "assumed certain risks when she chose to swim in open water without taking precautions to alert others of her presence."
According to a witness at the scene, the men yelled out, "Hey, lady, are you all right?" The men then reportedly left without offering aid.
On Friday, Skordas said he was surprised by the arrest of the men at their homes because they had maintained contact with police throughout the investigation.
"It's just very disappointing," he said. "I don't think the charges have merit, but that's why you have juries."
Skordas said he was also confused by the obstruction charges; in addition to investigators seizing the boat and taking the men's blood for testing, Skordas said he had "offered numerous times to come in and make a ... statement."
Fujimoto was a breast cancer survivor who, as part of a research team at the U., found the gene connected to breast cancer. At the time of her death, she was studying nervous-system development and cerebral palsy, colleagues say.