Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary has told a Canada court he doesn’t remember if his wife Linda had been drinking at a dinner party before a ‘chaotic’ boat crash that killed two people while she was driving home.
Linda has been charged with one non-criminal charge of careless operation of a vessel under the Canada Shipping Act for the death of Gary Poltash, 64, from Florida, and mother-of-three Susanne Brito, 48, from Ontario, who were both killed when Linda crashed the stargazing boat they were on in Lake Joseph in 2019.
On Wednesday, Kevin said that it was a ‘huge surprise’ when they crashed into the other boat, a 16-seat Nautique, because he hadn’t seen it until seconds before the impact at about midnight.
‘We went right into it. It was a huge surprise,’ Kevin testified via Zoom from his home in Los Angeles, reports Global News. ‘I didn’t see it until right before. I didn’t know what we hit.’
Kevin and Linda had been at a dinner party at a cottage near Lake Joseph and were returning to their house with a family friend when she crashed into a boat of 12 stargazers in August 2019.
Linda O’Leary (seen here, a post and picture from her Instagram account) was driving her boat on Lake Joseph when she crashed into a boat of 12 stargazers in August 2019
Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary has told a Canada court he doesn’t remember if his wife Linda (pictured together) had been drinking at a dinner party before a ‘chaotic’ boat crash that killed two people while she was driving home
Kevin told a court in Canada via Zoom that it was a ‘huge surprise’ when they crashed into the other boat, a 16-seat Nautique, because he hadn’t seen it until seconds before the impact at about midnight
Gary Poltash, 64, from Florida, and mother-of-three Susanne Brito, 48, from Ontario, were killed in the nighttime collision
A female officer had previously testified that Linda had told her she only had one drink and claiming that ‘someone had made her a drink when she returned from the accident’.
Kevin told the court he does not remember his wife being under the influence of alcohol in the hours before or after the crash but did admit there were several hours when he was not with her and said she ‘might have’ had a cocktail.
Linda’s lawyer, Brian Greenspan, asked Kevin: ‘Did you see any lights before the collision?’
Kevin replied: ‘Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You have to work very hard to make a boat that size be that dark.
‘It’s like it had a shroud on it or something.’
He claimed there was ‘zero’ light coming from the other vessel until after the collision when he claimed the lights came on.
Linda, who serves as the VP of Marketing for O’Leary Wines, was driving her and Kevin’s luxury boat on Lake Joseph in Ontario, Canada on August 24 in 2019 when it collided with another vessel causing the two fatalities and injuring three others. Pictured: One of the O’Leary’s boats
Kevin testified that the moments after the crash were ‘chaotic’ and he and Linda had called out to the other boat but did not hear a response. He said he was focused on the other passenger in their boat who was bleeding from a head injury.
He said he was told by a police officer in the early hours of the morning at 2am that a passenger in the other vessel had been killed – now known to be Gary Poltash – and another seriously injured. Suzana Brito died in hospital a few days later while three others were injured.
Kevin also told the court that their boat was travelling at between 14 and 20 nautical miles per hour at the time, but admitted that was an estimate.
Whether or not the other boat had its lights on is a key aspect to this case.
Last month, a witness who was on the boat with the two victims, insisted that they had their lights on the entire time before they were hit and after.
Cathryn Hibbard told the court: ‘It was a gruesome scene on our boat. There were lights on in the boat, so you could see everything.’
She said they had been sitting ‘idly’ in the water, looking at the sky when Lisa powered into them out of nowhere.
Linda’s boat slid on top of theirs then went back into the water.
Cathryn said she immediately blamed them – suggesting they’d crashed into her, when they’d been still the entire time.
‘The woman did all the talking at first and was like, kind of ‘You hit us,’ or, I don’t remember the actual words, but it sounded like she was, not confrontational, but pissed or bitchy, a little bit, excuse my language, just a little sassy.
‘Honestly, I thought she was a teenager that hit our boat,’ Cathryn told the court.
O’Leary his wife in Miami not long after the crash. She’ll return to court in July
She said that before the O’Leary’s hit them, there was ‘complete silence.’
‘It was absolutely silent, quiet, serene. It was like it came out of nowhere and was so fast,’ she said.
The Ontario Provincial Police constable who went to the O’Leary’s home also testified.
OPP Const. Breanne Marr said she arrived at the home to find Linda lying in bed, with one leg poking out of a blanket at the end.
There was an alcohol monitoring device at the end of the bed with the word ‘alert’ on it.
‘She was advising that someone had made her a drink when she returned from the accident.
‘She was very hostile toward us, she was not co-operative, she did not wish to speak to police any further, and, pretty well told us she was done talking,’ she said, adding that Linda had told her she had only had one drink.
Kevin O’Leary was cooperative, Marr said.
Kevin told the court he does not remember his wife being under the influence of alcohol in the hours before or after the crash but did admit there were several hours when he was not with her.
He said he had drunk alcohol at the dinner party which started at 7pm and at an earlier lunch at 2pm but claimed he could not remember if Linda had.
Kevin admitted that Linda ‘might have’ had a cocktail at the dinner party but ‘probably a watered down one because she was (the designated driver)’.
‘She knows if she’s the designated driver, she’s got to be very conscious about consuming alcohol,’ he told the court.