Florida man killed in boat crash involving Kevin OLeary was father of two, brother says

Codi Wilson, CTV News Toronto


Published Thursday, August 29, 2019 6:20AM EDT


Last Updated Thursday, August 29, 2019 7:16AM EDT

The brother of a Florida man killed in a boat crash involving celebrity businessman Kevin O’Leary says the retired accountant was a "fun-loving” father of two adult children.

Gary Poltash, a 64-year-old man from Belleair Beach, Fla., was one of two people killed when two boats collided on Lake Joseph near Emerald Island in Seguin Township, Ont. at around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The second victim, 48-year-old Uxbridge resident Susanne Brito, was initially transported to hospital in critical condition but later died.

O’Leary released a statement on Wednesday, confirming that he was a passenger on one of the boats involved in the collision.

In his statement, the former federal Conservative leadership candidate claimed the other watercraft had “no navigation lights on” and said it “fled the scene” after the crash.

Gary Poltash,
Gary Poltash, 64, died in the crash. (Supplied)


Speaking to CP24, Larry Poltash confirmed that his brother was on board a friend's boat when he was killed.

He said the owner of the boat is a medical doctor from California who has a house in Muskoka.

Police have denied that either of the boats fled the scene, saying that both watercrafts left to "attend a location and both parties called 911."

Kevin O'Leary
Kevin O'Leary was on one of the boats involved in the crash. (File)


Following the crash, Poltash said the doctor navigated the watercraft to a marina so an ambulance would know where to find them.

“I hope when it’s all said and done, it’s just an accident,” Poltash said.

He added that his brother’s children are on their way to Toronto and a funeral will likely be held for him this weekend in San Pedro, California.

Poltash described his brother as a “handsome guy” who loved to have fun. He said played football and attended the University of Southern California.

After graduation, Poltash said his brother went to work for a big accounting firm but ultimately decided to start his own business.

After retirement, he moved to North Carolina and then eventually settled in Florida, where he has resided for the past two years.

He said his brother did not know Brito, who was a guest of the doctor’s cousin.

Susanne Brito
Susanne Brito, 48, was also killed in the crash. (Supplied)


Brito was an “active member” of the Uxbridge community, according to Dave Barton, the town’s mayor.

In a statement, Barton said that Brito’s “energy and enthusiasm will be missed by all who knew her.”

Brito’s friend Heidi Barriage also released a statement to CTV News Toronto on Wednesday.

She described her friend, who was known as Suzana, as “kind, genuine, and vivacious”

“I loved her from the moment we met. She didn’t take her friendships lightly and made her love known to everyone she care for,” Barriage said.

“Suzana loved her children deeply and often spoke of her family. She never took life for granted and lived with such a positive energy that many of us will miss dearly. I’m heartbroken and will cherish our friendship forever.”

Ontario Provincial Police are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deadly crash.

In his statement, O'Leary said he is "fully cooperating with law enforcement."