Investigation Into Jose Fernandez’s Death Finds Ex-Marlins Pitcher Was Driving Boat In Fatal Crash
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission concluded in its nearly six-month investigation that former Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was killed in a fatal boating accident on Sept. 25, 2016, was actually driving the boat. that crashed into a jetty off the coast of Miami Beach.
Ex-Marlin Jose Fernandez Was Driving Boat In Crash That Killed Him, Investigation Finds
The 24-year-old Cuban-born American and two others, 27-year-old Jesus Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero, died from a combination of blunt force injuries sustained in the accident and drowning. The families of Macias and Rivero have filed lawsuits for wrongful death against Fernandez’s estate.
“There was no evidence found to indicate either Macias or Rivero were possible operators of (the vessel),” investigators concluded.
Marlins president David Samson issued a statement following the release of the report.
“No matter what the report has concluded, nothing will ever diminish Jose’s everlasting positive connection with Miamis and the Miami Marlins. Nor can it lessen the love and passion he felt for his family, friends, teammates and all his fans in South Florida and around the world.”
The Marlins paid tribute to Fernandez in their first game after his death by all wearing jerseys with his name and number, (16) and even tossing their hats in the middle of the field at Marlins Park.
The FWC’s investigation also concluded that drugs and alcohol were involved. According to the Commission, Fernandez violated several boating laws, including Boating Under the Influence Manslaughter, Vessel Homicide and Reckless or Careless Operation of a Vessel.
Fernandez’s blood alcohol level was reportedly .147 and there was “noted presence of cocaine,” according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s toxicology report.
The report also included a text message exchange from the night of the crash between Rivero and Maria Arias, Fernandez’s girlfriend. She told Rivero the two had been fighting, and she asked him to take care of Fernandez. “He’s been drinking and is not in the best state of mind,” one of Arias’s texts about the former pitcher said.
The report concluded: “Fernandez operated V-1 with his normal faculties impaired, in a reckless manner, at an extreme high rate of speed, in the darkness of night, in an area with known navigational hazards such as rock jetties and channel markers.”
The conclusion that Fernandez was the operator was based in part on the finding that his bruises matched the damage on the boat’s center console. Investigators also noted that his DNA was found on the steering wheel and throttle.
Jose Fernandez’s family attorney, Ralph Fernandez, was critical of the findings, saying the investigators tried hard but were “out of their league.”
“This is the most serious of matters and trying hard is not good enough,” said Ralph Fernandez, who accompanied Jose’s mother, Maritza, and girlfriend, Maria, to a meeting with the commission’s investigators Wednesday night. “This is a high-profile national case, a feather in the cap of an investigator if a conclusion is reached. … There was a bull’s-eye on Jose.”
Fernandez added the findings of the FWC’s investigation would not affect the Macias and Rivero families’ lawsuits.
ATLANTA, GA – SEPTEMBER 14: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins pitches in the first inning to the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on September 14, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)