The Kevin O’Leary boat crash: What we know and what we don’t

A day after news broke that TV personality and businessman Kevin O’Leary was involved in a boat crash in the Muskoka region that killed two people, many questions remain about just what happened.

The former federal Conservative leadership hopeful issued a statement about the incident with his version of events, but with the investigation in its early stages, the Ontario Provincial Police are keeping most official details under wraps.

Here’s what we do and don’t know about the investigation.

The initial specifics

Police say the fatal collision involved two boats — a smaller ski boat that can tow water skiers, and a larger, 13-occupant wakeboard pleasure craft.

The collision happened around 11:30 p.m. on Lake Joseph near Emerald Island in Seguin Township, a destination in the region about 215 kilometres north of downtown Toronto.

Police say two people died: Gary Poltash, 64, from Florida, and Susanne Brito, 48, from Uxbridge, Ont.

Three other people who were on the boats were also injured, police said. The three people were treated and released from hospital.

The provincial police say the criminal investigations branch is now heading up the investigation.

What exactly happened?

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,” he said.

Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne, media relations co-ordinator for the Ontario Provincial Police, would not provide any details about O’Leary’s role in the crash. Police have not said who was driving, but O’Leary maintains he wasn’t.

In his statement, O’Leary said the other boat did not have its navigation lights on and “fled the scene.”

Police would not comment on the navigation lights. But other information they provided seemed to contradict O’Leary’s claim the other boat “fled.”

Const. Joe Scali told CBC News Wednesday 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.”

Where are police in the broader investigation?

Dionne told CBC News on Thursday that everyone involved in the crash is currently co-operating with the investigation.

Police are examining the boats, looking at the extent of the damage and looking for mechanical issues that could have contributed to the incident, she said.

Investigators have not said whether or not speed or alcohol were factors. Police said they are also looking for anyone who has video from the area from around the time of a crash.

“That would be very helpful to the investigation,” Dionne said.

It’s not clear how long the investigation might take, she said.

Who are the victims?

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.

Katherine Thompson, a friend of Brito’s, told CBC News on Wednesday that her friend was “as beautiful inside as she was on the outside.

“She had an aspiring career but when her kids came along … her passion for marketing and media was replaced by her love for those three little people,” Thompson said.

Sources have told CBC News that Poltash was aboard a wakeboard craft owned by Dr. Irv Edwards. Poltash was reportedly a friend of Edwards, and was in the area visiting him.

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.

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