SSO - The Accident

A fatal accident occurred in 1974 during an attempt to swim across Lake Ontario.

Subsequently, Solo Swims of Ontario (SSO) was formed as a non-profit volunteer organization by an Order in Council of the Government of Ontario.

The verdict of the associated Coroner's Jury is reproduced here in an edited format.

The Coroners Act - Province of Ontario



John J. CORRIGAN of 3 Cheshire Drive, Islington
William G. EVANS of 10 Tacoma Avenue, Toronto
Peter BARKER of 24 Indian Road, Toronto
Marianne GENISE of 140 Hillmount Avenue, Toronto
Joyce BENTHAM of 3 Birchleaf Crescent, Weston
the jury serving on the inquest into the death of

Neil MacNEIL aged 17 years, held at 86 Lombard Street, Toronto on the 12, 13, 14, 15 day of November 1974, by Dr P. King, Coroner for Area No. 9, having been duly sworn, have inquired into and determined the following:

  1. Name of deceased: Neil MacNeil.
  2. Date and time of death: September 7, 1974, sometime after 3:45 pm.
  3. Place of death: Lake Ontario, approximately 6.5 miles North of Youngstown, New York.
  4. Cause of death: Missing, and presumed drowned.
  5. By what means: In an attempt to swim from Youngstown, New York to Toronto, Ontario, Mr MacNeil became separated from his pace swimmer, and the accompanying boat. Factors contributing to the unfortunate incident were an overloaded boat, lack of boating, swimming or navigational experience, youthful exuberance, and lack of organization.
Signatures of Jurors: J. Corrigan (Foreman); W. Evans; P. Barker; Marianne Genise; Joyce Bentham.

This verdict was received by me this 15th day of November 1974:

E.P. King, M.D., Regional Coroner for Area No. 0, Region "D"


  1. We recommend that the Ministry of Community Services establish, and fund a governing body for the regulation of long distance swims, by April 30, 1975.
  2. The regulatory body should establish standards regarding the physical condition and capabilities of the swimmer, and the facilities, equipment, and support systems required.
  3. We recommend that the standards established by the regulatory body incorporate the "Gus Ryder Plan for Long Distance Swimming", (exhibit #12, copy attached), and any recommendations of the Sports Advisory Committee, chaired by Mr A. Lee.
  4. We recommend that the Sports Advisory Committee make its report on or before January 31, 1975, to the Honourable Rene Brunelle.
  5. We recommend that the news media be approached by the regulatory body, regarding an agreement, in the public interest, to refrain from publicizing reports of intention to long distance swim, or to give coverage to long distance swims, which are not sanctioned by the proposed regulatory body of the Ministry of Community Services.
In conclusion, the jury wishes to convey sincere sympathy to the MacNeil family and to express gratitude to all those who assisted in the search for Mr MacNeil and the rescue of the group. JC

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Created: 15th December 1998
Last Updated: 18th March 2003