Police re-enacted fatal boat crash involving Linda O’Leary — and this is what they found

Dr. Richard Ruh, who drove the large boat that was hit, was cited for not having its lights on at night, and Linda O’Leary was cited with careless operation of a vessel

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The Ontario Provincial Police re-enacted the fatal boat crash on an exclusive Ontario cottage country lake, using a police vessel to simulate the speedboat of Linda and Kevin O’Leary heading towards the actual boat they hit, in which two people were killed while on a stargazing trip.


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The results of the simulation prompted Detective-Constable Sean Richardson to charge the drivers of both boats, determining it was unlikely the boat that was hit had its overhead light on as it would ruin the view of the stars, but the O’Leary boat could likely still have seen it if it was moving slowly, court heard Wednesday.

Richardson, the OPP’s lead investigator into the Aug. 24, 2019, crash, cited Dr. Richard Ruh, who drove the large boat that was hit, for not having its lights on at night, and Linda O’Leary, wife of reality television star Kevin O’Leary, with careless operation of a vessel.

The crash was captured by dockside surveillance cameras on the shore of Lake Joseph, north of Toronto. In the distance on the lake, O’Leary’s well-lit boat suddenly stops and bounces back in the darkness. Moments later, several lights suddenly appear aboard the other boat.


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Court previously heard that Ruh was one of several people from a lakefront cottage who went out on the lake to look at the stars.

Richardson said that during the re-enactment, he found it would be difficult for passengers to star gaze, as several witnesses described, if the bright overhead light that is required by law was turned on at the time.

“I had issue seeing stars. It was a clear night, and I wasn’t able to enjoy myself looking at the stars. It was a very bright light and it irritated me to look into,” Richardson told Justice Richard Humphrey.


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“It was not enjoyable to look up because of how bright that light was,” he said. “When the light was off, I was able to see the stars.”

He said he also had the boat that was struck float in the lake with its lights turned off at about the same time of night as when the crash occurred. He then had an OPP boat slowly head towards it while he looked out.

“I travelled at a low rate of speed towards (the unlit boat),” he said.

“And as we slowly approached the boat, I was able to make note of where the boat was and I was able to make observations of that boat with the lights off.”

Ruh pleaded guilty but said he did so only to avoid legal fees and maintains his lights were on. O’Leary pleaded not guilty and is fighting the charge, which is laid under the Canada Shipping Act and punishable by a fine only, at a trial in Parry Sound, Ont.


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Richardson said there is no speed limit on the lake and that a precise speed for the O’Leary boat at the time of the collision could not be determined from the security video. Various estimates were proposed of between 20 to 30 miles per hour, calculated using approximate distance and time.

Leah Smith, a lakefront cottage neighbour and the host of the evening dinner party, also testified Wednesday.

When the light was off, I was able to see the stars

She said Linda and Kevin O’Leary and their friend, Allison Whiteside, arrived at her cottage by boat and she served Linda O’Leary a cocktail when she got there, but made it with half the alcohol used for the others because O’Leary asked for it to be “super light.”

Smith said she prepared a welcome cocktail for guests as they arrived: vodka and lime juice in a tall glass with ice, topped by sparkling Perrier water and garnished with lime zest and mint leaves.


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She said O’Leary approached her and said, “If you’re making a beverage for me you need to make it super light. I’m the DD tonight,” using the shorthand for the designated driver, the person who plans to drive others home who were consuming alcohol.

Smith said she was using 1.5 ounces of vodka for the cocktails but used only half of that for Linda O’Leary’s.

She said both red and white wine was served during the five-course dinner for 10, but O’Leary, who sat next to Smith, turned her wine glasses upside down on the table, signifying she wasn’t drinking wine. Smith said the glasses were still upside down when the table was cleared at the end of evening.

She said O’Leary complained: “I wish Kevin was the DD but I’m the DD, I’m always the DD.”


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Court heard that about two hours after the crash, an OPP officer gave O’Leary a breath test, which showed a warning alert for alcohol, and her licence was suspended. O’Leary told the officer she had not been drinking, but later said she had a vodka and water after the crash, which someone gave her when she returned to her cottage, the officer testified.

The court saw longer versions of security video from the Smith’s dock from the evening of the crash, previously shown in court.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

One shows O’Leary driving their speedboat up to the dock with her husband and Whiteside in the back. Another video, from shortly before the crash, shows the trio leaving the party.

Linda O’Leary is seen climbing into the captain’s seat and pushing off from the dock with her leg before steering away towards their cottage.

It was on that return trip their boat collided with a much larger boat. Two passengers onboard that big boat, Suzana Brito, 48, of Uxbridge, Ont., and Gary Poltash, 64, of Florida, died from blunt force trauma from the collision.

The trial continues.

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