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Linda O’Leary had ‘alert range’ of blood alcohol after boat crash, officer testifies

Charge relates to a collision that took place on Lake Joseph, north of Toronto, on the night of Aug. 24, 2019
FILE – Linda O’Leary and Kevin O’Leary arrive at the American Music Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. A lawyer for Linda O’Leary, the wife of celebrity businessman Kevin O’Leary, says his client was not impaired when she got involved in a boat crash on an Ontario lake that left two people dead. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jordan Strauss/Invision

An Ontario police officer says Linda O’Leary registered an “alert range” level of blood alcohol on a breath test taken shortly after a boat crash that killed two people.

O’Leary — the wife of celebrity businessman Kevin O’Leary — has pleaded not guilty to one charge of careless operation of a vessel under the Canada Shipping Act.

The charge relates to a collision that took place on Lake Joseph, north of Toronto, on the night of Aug. 24, 2019.

Ontario Provincial Police Const. Michelle Ingham told the court today that she attended the O’Leary boathouse to conduct a preliminary investigation shortly after the crash.

Ingham says she asked Linda O’Leary, who was operating the boat at the time of the collision, to do a breath test after noticing the woman’s eyes appeared glossy and her pupils dilated.

The officer says O’Leary was reluctant to do the test, and told her she had only consumed one alcoholic beverage after the crash, not before.

She says O’Leary’s breath sample indicated a blood alcohol range between 50 and 99 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

The maximum legal blood alcohol concentration in Canada is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

In Ontario, anything between 50 and 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood is considered a warning range that carries a penalty of a fine and a licence suspension under the Highway Traffic Act for a first offence, though it does not lead to a criminal charge.

“I could tell that she was upset by the news,” the officer testified.

Ingham told the court that earlier in the exchange, O’Leary said she had done “nothing wrong.”

The officer said O’Leary told her “the other boat didn’t have any lights on and she didn’t see it.”

O’Leary also described calling out to the other boat to ask if anyone was injured and not hearing a response, after which she said the other boat took off, the officer recalled.

Gary Poltash, 64, from Florida, died on shore that night, while Suzana Brito, 48, from Uxbridge, Ont., died in hospital a few days later.

An agreed statement of facts read in court on the first day of trial last month says they died as a result of blunt force trauma, to either the head or the head and neck, from being struck by a boat.

The crash also left three people injured.

The operator of the other boat, Richard Ruh, of Orchard Park, N.Y., was also charged in the incident. He faced one count of failing to exhibit a navigation light while underway.

Ruh previously told the court he was issued a ticket and eventually paid the fine after contesting it for more than a year.

The Canadian Press

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