Two people who were present in the immediate aftermath of a fatal boat crash two years ago told an Ontario court Tuesday they didn’t see Linda O’Leary drink any alcohol or receive a drink from anyone after returning to shore.
Francesca Hawkes and Aaron Lengyel, both friends of O’Leary’s son, were at the family’s cottage when the fatal collision took place the night of Aug. 24, 2019.
In separate testimony Tuesday, both described rushing to greet the O’Leary boat as it returned following the collision, and bringing towels to help one of the passengers who had a bleeding gash on her head.
They also each recalled the group deciding to call paramedics to tend to the injured, and that Linda O’Leary — who appeared to have badly injured her foot — was eventually moved to the second floor of the boathouse, where she could rest on a bed.
Neither saw O’Leary consume any alcohol, they said, or were aware of anyone else serving her any after the boat returned.
At another point in his testimony, however, Lengyel noted that O’Leary was always adamant that no one who consumed any alcohol could operate their boat.
O’Leary has pleaded not guilty to one charge of careless operation of a vessel under the Canada Shipping Act.
Court has heard she was at the helm when the O’Leary boat struck another vessel on Lake Joseph, north of Toronto. Her husband, celebrity businessman Kevin O’Leary, was also aboard, as was one of their friends.
A provincial police officer testified Monday that Linda O’Leary registered an “alert range” blood alcohol level in a breath test shortly after the incident, but that O’Leary told her she had only had one drink, and it was after the crash.
OPP Const. Michelle Ingham said O’Leary told her she couldn’t say how strong the drink was because it was handed to her by someone else.
The defence has suggested the other boat did not have its lights on when it was hit.
Hawkes told the court Tuesday she and a group that included Lengyel and the O’Learys’ son Trevor were having a bonfire in a spot overlooking the lake when they saw the O’Leary boat approach and heard “a massive bang.”
The 24-year-old said she immediately knew from the sound that another boat had been struck, but that no other vessel could be seen.
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Seconds later, she said, another boat turned on its lights.
“It was completely dark and then all the lights lit up,” she testified. “You could very clearly see that it was another boat once those lights were on.”
The O’Learys could be heard asking if anyone was hurt, but Hawkes said she didn’t hear a response. Shortly afterwards, the other boat slowly left, she said.
As a result, Hawkes said she assumed there were no serious injuries on the other boat. It was only after police arrived that she learned people had been critically hurt, she said.
Lengyel also testified hearing the O’Leary boat hit something, but not realizing what it was until the other boat turned on its lights.
At one point, Lengyel said he advised Kevin O’Leary to contact a lawyer, because he assumed police would be coming with paramedics.
Later, he said Linda O’Leary also mentioned she would have to speak to police. On one occasion, she mentioned having to give a statement to officers before she could go to the hospital to seek treatment for her foot, he said. Later, she again alluded to having to provide a statement, he said.