Boat had lights on when it was hit by vessel operated by Linda O’Leary, witness says


A man involved in a deadly boat crash in central Ontario two years ago says the vessel’s lights were on when it was struck by another boat captained by Linda O’Leary.

Richard Ruh told an Ontario court this morning the boat he was aboard had its navigation lights — a white overhead light and two green and red lights on the bow — on at the time of the late-night crash on Aug. 24, 2019, as well as a control panel that provided some light.

Court has heard Ruh had taken over operating the boat that belonged to his friend while they went out stargazing on Lake Joseph with a group that night.

Ruh, a family doctor who lives in Buffalo, N.Y., but rents a cottage near the lake, said the craft had been still for some time when he saw lights from an oncoming boat.

Seconds later, he says, their boat was struck by another vessel — a crash that caused the deaths of Gary Poltash, 64, from Florida, and Suzana Brito, 48, from Uxbridge, Ont.

O’Leary, who is the wife of celebrity businessman and former politician Kevin O’Leary, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of careless operation of a vessel under the Canada Shipping Act.

An agreed statement of facts read in court Monday said she was at the helm when the collision took place.

The Public Prosecution Service of Canada initially said a conviction could involve a jail sentence and a maximum fine of a million dollars, but later said there was no jail time associated with the charge and the maximum fine is $10,000.

Ruh was also charged with one count of failing to exhibit a navigation light while underway.

He told the court Monday he was issued a ticket, which he contested for more than a year before paying the $125 fine and signing an attestation of “neither innocence nor guilt.”

The doctor said he is also named as a defendant in six lawsuits related to the collision.

Kevin O’Leary, the former star of the popular CBC show “Dragons’ Den,” also stars in the ABC show “Shark Tank.” He briefly sought the leadership of the federal Conservatives in 2017.