Passenger can’t recall which lights were on when boat struck by O’Leary’s boat


A woman who was on a boat during a fatal collision on a central Ontario lake acknowledged under cross-examination today that she can’t clearly recall how many of the boat’s lights were on when it was struck by the other vessel.

Susan Auricchio testified this morning at the trial of Linda O’Leary, who is charged under the Canada Shipping Act in connection with the incident.

Auricchio initially told the court that the boat she was aboard the night of Aug. 24, 2019 had all of its lights on, including at the time of the collision.

Under cross-examination, however, she acknowledged telling prosecutors in a statement this past April that she couldn’t say “for sure” which lights were on aside from the boat’s computerized control panel.

Auricchio, an insurance worker living in New York State, also viewed security footage of the lake from that night and agreed with the defence that it appeared to show the boat’s lights being turned off at one point.

The status of the boat’s lights is a central point in the case, with the defence suggesting the boat was not visible at the time of the collision because its lights were off.

Two people were killed in the crash. Gary Poltash, 64, from Florida, died that night after the damaged boat returned to shore. Suzana Brito, 48, from Uxbridge, Ont. died in hospital days later.

Three people were also injured.

O’Leary, the wife of celebrity businessman Kevin O’Leary, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of careless operation of a vessel under the Canada Shipping Act, which federal prosecutors have said could carry a fine of up to $10,000 if she is convicted.

An agreed statement of facts said she was operating the boat when the collision took place. Her husband was also aboard.

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.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press