Wife of ‘Shark Tank’s’ Kevin O’Leary Charged in Boating Accident

ABC’s hit reality show Shark Tank is gearing up for the premiere of Season 11, though for one of the sharks, the mood is a little less than celebratory. Last month, millionaire investor Kevin O’Leary was involved in a tragic boating crash with his wife Linda, which killed two people. Now, Mrs. O’Leary has been officially charged by police.

"Shark Tank's" Kevin O'Leary at Milken Institute Global Conference
“Shark Tank’s” Kevin O’Leary | Kyle Grillot/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Accident in Ontario

The accident took place at 11:30 p.m. on August 24 on Lake Joseph in Ontario, Canada, according to NBC News, O’Leary was on his boat with his wife and another passenger when it struck a larger boat that reportedly did not have its lights on. Gary Poltash, a 64-year-old man from Florida, and Susanne Brito, a 48-year-old Uxbridge mother of three, were both killed, as reported by the Toronto Sun. Three other people were also injured in the crash.

“Late Saturday night I was a passenger in a boat that had a tragic collision with another craft that had no navigation lights on and then fled the scene of the accident,” O’Leary said in a statement on August 28, according to Us Weekly. “I am fully cooperating with authorities. Out of respect for the families who have lost loved ones and to fully support the ongoing investigation, I feel it is inappropriate to make further comments at this time. My thoughts are with all the families affected.”

People reported that a rep for O’Leary also added, “We are devastated by the event that occurred on Saturday night on Lake Joseph. Mr. O’Leary is cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation into this tragedy. We respect the investigation process being conducted by the Police, and will not comment further. Our thoughts and prayers are with victims and their families.”

NBC News reported that a spokesperson told TMZ that O’Leary’s wife was driving the craft. She was given a DUI test and passed.

Charges after investigation

According to Entertainment Tonight, the Ontario Provincial Police released a statement on September 24 saying that Linda O’Leary has been charged with Careless Operation of a Vessel following their investigation into the accident on Lake Joseph. The charge goes against the Canada Shipping Act’s Small Vessel Regulations, and she is scheduled to appear in the Provincial Offences Court in Parry Sound, Ontario, on October 29.

Fifty-seven-year-old New Yorker Richard Ruh, the driver of the other boat, was charged with Failing to Exhibit Navigation Light while Underway, which is against the Canada Shipping Act’s Collision Regulations.

“Now that the authorities have concluded their thorough investigation, I have no further comment other than to say that our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and families of those who lost loved ones in this awful tragedy,” a spokesperson for O’Leary told Entertainment Tonight. “Our hearts go out to them.”

The Canadian news outlet National Post reported a statement from Linda O’Leary’s lawyer, Brian Greenspan, saying what happened was “a terrible tragedy… but we find it regrettable that the OPP has chosen to charge Mrs. O’Leary under the shipping regulations in circumstances where the person has always been a cautious, and certainly experienced boater, came in a collision with an unlit craft on a dark and moonless night on Lake Joseph.”

A native Canadian

The Shark Tank investor was born in Montreal, in the province of Quebec, Canada in 1954, and attended the University of Western Ontario to pursue an MBA, as reported by The Street.

O’Leary began his reality show career when he was asked to be on the panel of the Canadian series Dragon’s Den, which has the same premise as Shark Tank. Also on the panel was fellow Canadian Robert Herjavec, who left Dragon’s Den in 2012. O’Leary departed the den in 2014. Both millionaires have been on Shark Tank since its premiere in August 2009.

O’Leary’s prime residence is in Toronto, Ontario, though he also has homes in Boston and Geneva, Switzerland.