Published July 24, 2013
A Canadian man who wanted to prove he could swim across the Detroit River to the United States after a night of drinking prompted an international rescue operation late Monday.
John Morillo, 47, of Windsor, Ontario, told The Windsor Star that the swim from his hometown to Detroit was “really stupid” and realizes in retrospect it should never have happened.
"I was drinking, but I wasn't really drunk," Morillo told the newspaper on Tuesday. "The thing is, I've been telling people I'm going to swim across the river for years and they're like 'yah, yah, blah, blah, you can't make it.' So, I don't know, last night I just decided it was the time to go."
Morillo was cited for public intoxication and was released from jail on Tuesday. He said he regretted causing problems for Canadian and U.S. authorities. Three boats and a helicopter reportedly responded to rescue Morillo from the dangerous river’s current.
"As soon I saw the helicopters going by and the boats looking for me, I was like 'oh, this is really stupid,'" Morillo told The Windsor Star.
Police in Windsor initially responded around 11:30 p.m., when a neighbor of Morillo called to say she had lost sight of him about a half-hour earlier. Morillo ultimately made it across to Detroit, getting out of the water near downtown's Renaissance Center. He was swimming back to Canada when he was spotted at about 1 a.m. Tuesday by the U.S. Coast Guard. While on the Detroit side of the river, Morillo said people wanted to take his picture.
"There was one woman, she said she was from Windsor and she thought I was crazy," he said. “She was right."
Morillo said authorities told him he'll also likely be fined for swimming in a shipping channel, which could be $5,000 to $25,000.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.