Toronto

Kevin O'Leary confirms he was passenger in boat involved in double-fatal crash

Collision occurred on Lake Joseph north of Toronto at about 11:30 p.m. ET Saturday

Posted: August 28, 2019
Last Updated: August 29, 2019

Kevin O'Leary has confirmed that a boat he was in was involved in a fatal crash in Ontario's Muskoka region on Saturday night. (David Donnelly/CBC)

TV personality Kevin O'Leary was a passenger in a boat involved in a collision in Ontario's Muskoka region that claimed two lives, he confirmed in a statement today.

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have identified the two dead as Gary Poltash, 64, from Florida, and Susanne Brito, 48, from Uxbridge, Ont.

Poltash died Saturday following the crash. Brito, who was critically injured, died in hospital late Tuesday.

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Three other people were taken to hospital with injuries and have since been released.

The collision occurred around 11:30 p.m. ET Saturday near Emerald Island on Lake Joseph, a popular destination in the region about 215 kilometres north of downtown Toronto, OPP said.

Just hours earlier, around 4:30 p.m., Brito posted a photo of the lake with the words: "Beautiful day! Enjoy."

Just hours before the crash, Brito posted this on her Facebook page. (Suzana Brito/Facebook)

Const. Joe Scali, with the OPP's West Parry Sound detachment, told CBC News both of the vehicles involved were pleasure crafts. One was a larger boat with a capacity of 13 people, while the other was a small ski boat capable of towing water skiers, he said. 

Scali could not say how many people were on board either vessel at the time of the crash, whether speed was a factor or whether any of the drivers were required to perform a breathalyzer test.

The two boats are now being inspected by the OPP's forensic unit. It's currently unknown whether charges might be laid, he said. 

A view from the Hamer Bay Marine looking out into Hamer Bay, which connects to Lake Joseph, where the crash happened. (Robert Krbavac/CBC)

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In a statement from his publicist, O'Leary said he was a "passenger in a boat that was involved in a tragic collision with another watercraft."

"I am fully co-operating with law enforcement in their investigation," O'Leary said.

'Prayers and condolences'

The statement said the other boat did not have its navigation lights on and "fled the scene."

Police would not comment on the navigation lights or say who was driving O'Leary's vessel at the time of the crash. But other information they provided seemed to contradict O'Leary's claim the other boat "fled."

Scali told CBC News that police received calls from people aboard each boat, and both boats involved in the collision "left the scene to seek medical attention." He would not comment on the apparent discrepancy between the police account and O'Leary's statement.

O'Leary's statement went on to say that "out of respect for the victims' families and to fully support the ongoing investigation, I feel it is inappropriate to make further comments at this time.

Gary Poltash, 64, was killed in the crash. (Facebook)

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"My heartfelt prayers and condolences to the victims, the families and those affected by this loss," O'Leary said.

Uxbridge Mayor Dave Barton said in a statement that Brito often went by the name "Suzana" and that she and her family were "active members" of the community.

She had three young children: two boys and a girl.

Susanne Brito, 48, from Uxbridge, Ont. was critically injured in the crash. She died Tuesday. (Suzana Brito/Facebook)

"Suzana's energy and enthusiasm will be missed by all who knew her. We are mourning her loss along with her family and friends. On behalf of the Township of Uxbridge, I offer our deepest condolences to her loved ones left behind," he said. 

O'Leary, a businessman and former Dragons' Den star on CBC, made a bid for the federal Conservative leadership race before dropping out in 2017. He now appears on the ABC show Shark Tank in the United States.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about the crash to come forward.

The collision occurred around 11:30 p.m. ET Saturday near Emerald Island on Lake Joseph, a popular destination in the region about 215 km north of downtown Toronto, Ontario provincial police said. (CBC)