Canadian Man Swims To Detroit, Alcohol Was Involved

Earlier this week, a Canadian man had an idea:

The police, the port authority and his mom are all really mad at him, but John Morillo takes comfort in the fact that he now has bragging rights.

Morillo sparked an international rescue operation late Monday when he loaded up on about eight beers then jumped in the river and swam to Detroit, just to prove he could do it.

“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,” Morillo, 47, said 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.”

Shortly after getting out of jail Tuesday, Morillo admitted he’s “really stupid” and regrets causing a hassle for authorities, but added he didn’t expect it would cause such a stir.

Windsor police responded to the 1600 block of Riverside Drive around 11:30 p.m. Morillo’s neighbour, who wanted to witness his swim, called police about half an hour after she lost sight of him.

Police notified the Canadian and U.S. coast guards. Three boats and a helicopter were deployed to search the area. The U.S. coast guard found Morillo around 12:50 a.m., swimming on the Canadian side just west of the Hilton hotel.


Morillo said Windsor’s harbour master told him he’ll likely be fined for swimming in a shipping channel, which could run anywhere from $5,000 to $25,000.

Authorities are also stressing that swimming in the Detroit River is “extremely dangerous” because of the strong undertow in the shipping channel. It’s also prohibited under Port Authority Operating Regulations. Harbour Master Peter Berry with the Windsor Port Authority couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

“The harbour master was extremely mad at me,” said Morillo. “I don’t know, maybe they pulled him out of bed or something.”

Morillo said he’s also been barred from any city property on the waterfront. Besides that, he had his irate mother to deal with.

“She just hung up on me,” said Morillo. “She said ‘you’re just so stupid.'”

Not surprisingly, alcohol was involved:

I was drinking, but I wasn’t really drunk,” Morillo said 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.”

He jumped in the river near Hiram Walker and swam to the Renaissance Center.

“When I got to the Renaissance Center I couldn’t find a way to get up onto the platform,” said Morillo. “Then some guy said ‘hey there’s a ladder over here.’ I climbed up the ladder, then people were asking to take their pictures with me. There was one woman, she said she was from Windsor and she thought I was crazy. She was right.”

Then he slipped back in the river for his return trip. It wasn’t long after that he realized his swim had attracted more attention than anticipated.

“As soon I saw the helicopters going by and the boats looking for me, I was like ‘oh, this is really stupid,'” said Morillo.

Yea that’s one way of putting it.

H/T: Gawker

FILED UNDER: Policing, Uncategorized, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Franklin says:

    It’s not that far, but yeah I would think the current (or a ship) would kill you. Not sure if it’s that warm, either, even in the middle of summer. But otherwise I kind of think it was awesome, up until the point they sent out the expensive search party.

  2. Tyrell says:

    Dangerous currents? I would say that he is in far more danger on the streets of Detroit. His sentence will be a one year stay in Detroit.

  3. Jenos Idanian says:

    There’s not enough alcohol in the world to get me to go to Detroit. By any means of transit.

  4. Davebo says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I’m pretty sure that’s a relief to the entire Detroit population. Any tips on how other communities might make that cut?

  5. Moosebreath says:

    And here I thought he was trying to escape the tyranny of socialized medicine.

    No, not really.

  6. Andre Kenji says:

    To cross the border from Canada to the United States, one must be drunk. Extremely drunk.

  7. Franklin says:

    @Tyrell: @Jenos Idanian: Better to be on the streets of Detroit than to be forced to listen to you two.

  8. rudderpedals says:

    Morillo did it but after a few hours of playing X albums and slamming back cold ones he couldn’t forget the motor city.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Darwin must have been asleep.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:


    Any tips on how other communities might make that cut?

    Be majority black Democrat would probably do the trick.

  11. Mikey says:

    I am impressed. The Detroit River is a mile wide at that point and, as the article mentions, there are some strong currents. He went across and back.

    His bragging rights are going to cost him a pretty penny, but that was a hell of a swim.