A young woman says she didn’t see Linda O’Leary drink any alcohol or anyone hand her a drink after a boat crash that killed two people.

Francesca Hawkes, a friend of O’Leary’s son, was at the family’s cottage when the fatal collision took place the night of Aug. 24, 2019.

Hawkes says she helped care for another passenger who was injured after the O’Leary boat returned, but did not see O’Leary drink anything or hear her mention alcohol.

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 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.

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.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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