5 things to learn from the O’Leary boat collision that killed two people

boating-at-dusk Photo by LeStudio/Shutterstock

On Saturday night, August 24, 2019 on Lake Joseph in Ontario, entrepreneur and TV personality Kevin O’Leary, who is best known for his appearances on the hit TV show “Shark Tank,” was involved in a boating accident that has left two people dead.

According to his agent Jay Sures, O’Leary was a passenger in a boat when it collided with another boat. Numerous media reports have stated that two people were killed, three more were injured and that as of August 30th, the investigation is ongoing and no charges have been filed. CNN posted this video.

There are 5 important things to note from this high-profile tragedy. O’Leary has stated that he was a passenger in the boat that was driven by his wife Linda O’Leary. She was given a DUI test, which she passed, according to O’Leary’s agent.


Regardless of the O’Leary tragedy and what the investigation findings may be, “Boat Sober” is the important message. Alcohol or cannabis use will impair judgement, and sound judgement is critical in safe boating after dark.


We contacted John Gullick, Past President of the Canadian Safe Boating Council and Manager of Government and Special Programs for Canadian Power and Sail Squadrons who stated that one of the primary boating “rules of the road” is: to Keep Watch to Avoid Collisions. Keeping a constant watch for others on the water is common sense and the law.

This goes both ways. The O’Learys should have seen the other boat, and they should have seen the O’Leary’s boat coming. Either boat should have taken evasive action to avoid a collision. Obviously, neither one did.


This story and the likely court case to come will dwell on this point; O’Leary through his agent, provided a comment to TMZ; “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. I am fully cooperating with authorities.”

The navigation light comment will quite likely be the deciding factor in this case. Without their navigation lights on, the O’Learys could not be expected to see the other boat in the dark. So…are your navigation lights working properly? I have heard from OPP Marine Unit personnel that malfunctioning navigation lights are alarmingly common.


The other point that is very important here, is to wear your PFD (personal floatation device) when you are in the boat. Collisions like the O’Leary case are thankfully, quite rare, and we have no details about the crash and the impact the other boat sustained, but generally, all accidents occur without warning.

Should a person be suddenly thrown into the water, there is no time to locate their PFD, get it spread out, put it on and fasten it. In the O’Leary case, the people may have been impacted by the collision and certainly, there is water everywhere so drowning is a risk. For people with a concussion or more severe injuries, drowning may be a certainty.


The Canadian Safe Boating Council also says to ensure your boat has all the required safety gear and sufficient fuel. Be sure the weather is suitable for your vessel’s capabilities.

Should an accident occur, a First Aid kit and basic first aid knowledge could be very important. In the O’Leary accident, both boats were still operable and left the scene to get medical attention. That might be much further away than home. It would be a bad time to run out of fuel.

This happened on my home turf. I spent much of my youth driving boats in Muskoka and lots of it after dark. That can be delightful, memorable and safe, but everyone has to follow the rules — otherwise an accident can occur. This tragedy should not have happened.

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