“If I’m going to be in the paper, I’d at least like them to say I actually made it, even though I got in trouble and everything,” he told The Windsor Star Tuesday. “I gotta pay fines and stuff. But I don’t want it to sound like I didn’t make it, because then my buddies are going to say ‘ha, ha, you didn’t make it.’ Because that was the whole thing, to show them I could do it.”
Morillo, who had been planning to swim across the river for years, began his journey by jumping in the river near Hiram Walker in Windsor, Ontario, Canada on Monday night.
“I was drinking, but I wasn’t really drunk,” he said. “The thing is, I’ve been telling people I’m going to swim across the river for years ... last night I just decided it was the time to go.”
A neighbor of Morillo's, who wanted to witness the swim, reported the stunt to police after having lost sight of him for over half an hour.
Police then notified the Canadian and U.S. coast guards and three helicopters were deployed to search the area. The U.S. guard found him at around 12:50 a.m. swimming on the Canadian side, just west of the Hilton Hotel.
Morillo explained that he made it all the way to the Renaissance Center, got out of the water and posed for pictures with a few people before swimming back and being apprehended by authorities. He added that by the time he heard the helicopters he knew he had done something stupid.
The 47-year-old was charged with being intoxicated in a public place and will probably be fined for swimming in a shipping channel. The Windsor’s harbor master said the fine could go from $5,000 to $25,000. He spent the night in jail and was released on Tuesday.
Authorities told Morillo that swimming in the Detroit River is “extremely dangerous” because of the strong undertow in the shipping channel. He said that both the harbor master and his mother were extremely mad at him.
In the end, he learned his lesson.
“I never should have done it. I’ve been telling people I could swim across the river for 20 years and they all laughed at me, and I finally did it. But I would not suggest anybody do it. There are giant fines for doing it, crossing the shipping lanes. It’s just really stupid and I apologize for all the people that had to go out looking for me,” he said.