KEVIN O'LEARY BOAT TRAGEDY: Conflicting stories on fatal collision
More from Brad Hunter
August 29, 2019
August 29, 2019 10:31 AM EDT
Death came calling as fireworks glittered over a glassy Muskoka lake.
And now, pointed questions are being directed at celebrity entrepreneur Kevin O’Leary whose boat was involved in the fatal Saturday night crash that claimed two lives on Lake Joseph.
Cops say Uxbridge mother of three Suzana Brito, 48, died Monday from catastrophic head injuries.
Brito was still breathing and kept alive, sources told the Toronto Sun, so her organs could be retrieved.
Suzana Brito (Facebook)
Retired accountant Gary Poltash, 64, who lives in Florida, was killed instantly.
He had been friends with the owner of the other boat for years, his brother told the Sun.
The horrific crash happened around 11:30 p.m., near Emerald Island.
It wasn’t until gossip website TMZ revealed details about the crash on Tuesday night that the OPP and the former Dragon’s Den star made statements.
Gary Poltash (Facebook)
O’Leary was quick to get ahead of the narrative after initially declining to comment because of the “ongoing investigation.”
“Late Saturday night I was a passenger in a boat that had a tragic collision with another craft that had no navigation lights on and then fled the scene of the accident. I am fully cooperating with authorities,” he said in a carefully-crafted statement.
“Out of respect for the families who have lost loved ones and to fully support the ongoing investigation, I feel it is inappropriate to make further comments at this time. My thoughts are with all the families affected.”
The entrepreneur has claimed his wife was behind the wheel of the boat.
The other boat was not fleeing, sources told the Sun, but racing to shore to get desperately-needed medical assistance for two critically injured passengers.
A Brito family member — who spoke on condition of anonymity — claimed that it was O’Leary who fled the scene of the crash and that his boat was later found docked at a nearby resort.
The distraught relative said the family is also wondering how long after the crash that O’Leary’s wife was given a breathalyzer.
Another person who knows some of the people who were on the other boat said they are “pissed” about the businessman’s seemingly aggressive PR campaign.
Kevin O’Leary speaks about visiting Ottawa in this image taken from video posted to his Facebook page. Handout/Postmedia Network
“Kevin’s boat was flying with the bow up and probably obscured the view of the front of his boat,” the friend said, adding that O’Leary is “overselling” his side of the story.
Linda O’Leary, who had posted photos from Lake Joseph earlier this month, changed her Instagram settings to private on Wednesday. A spokesman for Kevin O’Leary said she passed a drug and alcohol test.
According to investigators, the two dead victims were on a 13-person craft returning to a nearby cottage after a pleasure cruise when it was allegedly struck by O’Leary’s boat.
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Three others were treated in hospital and released.
“I can’t speak on it,” O’Leary told the Sun late Tuesday. “Sorry, I don’t think there’s been any release of that information, so I have no comment. Sorry. Thanks.”
Sources said the O’Leary craft was later docked at the Rocky Crest Golf Resort. The general manager refused to comment and directed inquiries to the OPP.
An employee at Hamer Bay Marina employee was equally tight-lipped.
West Parry Sound OPP Const. Joe Scali said the police investigation is continuing.
“Actually, both boats did leave the scene … both boats left the scene to contact emergency services. Ambulance received 911 calls from the parties of both boats,” Scali said.
He refused to reveal whether one of the boats docked at Rocky Crest Gold Resort.
“We understand how much the media requires information and we’re doing our best and appreciate your patience,” he added. “Pending full investigation, then we’ll determine if charges are warranted.”
O’Leary is well-known as a former bombastic “Dragon” on CBC’s Dragons’ Den and previously co-hosted The Lang and O’Leary Exchange.
On Tuesday, it was business as usual for O’Leary who appeared on business network CNBC.
Controversial business tycoon
WHO: Kevin O’Leary
WHAT: Born in Montreal, O’Leary has been an often controversial figure in Canadian business, politics and the media. He was the co-founder of O’Leary Funds and Softkey.
MEDIA MAVEN: O’Leary shot to fame starting in 2004 with appearances on business blabfests, SqueezePlay and the Lang and O’Leary Exchange. He later had a long run on reality show Dragon’s Den.
Since 2009 he has been a regular on Dragon’s Den U.S. doppelganger Shark Tank. He is known as “Mr. Wonderful”.
CONTROVERSY: O’Leary’s The Learning Company was acquired by Mattel in 1999 making him rich. He was later fired after the company generated gallons of red ink along with shareholder lawsuits. He was later fired.
POLITICS: For a brief moment in 2017, O’Leary explored a run for the leadership of the Conservative Party. He dropped out one month before the convention citing a lack of support in his native Quebec.
PERSONAL: O’Leary has been married to wife Linda since 1990 and they have two children. The couple briefly separated in 2011 but have since gotten back together. He lives in Toronto but has a Muskoka cottage and homes in Boston and Geneva, Switzerland.
QUOTE: “If you want a friend buy a dog.” — Kevin O’Leary
— With files from Brian Lilley