When Jose Fernandez made his major league debut for the Marlins in 2013, the pitcher took the mound against the New York Mets at Citi Field. As the Mets begin a series in Miami this week, Fernandez was set to take the mound once again for the Marlins against their division rivals. While the game will take place as planned, there will be heavy hearts at Marlins Park after the 24-year-old pitching star was tragically killed in a boating accident over the weekend.
Following the Marlins win against the Atlanta Braves Saturday night, the all-star pitcher joined two friends on a boat in the waters off Miami Beach. Around 3:30 Sunday morning, the Coast Guard discovered the 32-foot boat capsized on a jetty by the harbor entrance. There was no indication how long the vessel had been there, but officials found the front of the boat sticking up with the engines underwater. Debris from the accident was spread out among the rocks, and tragically the bodies of all three men were found at the scene.
The Miami-Dade police and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were called in to investigate. Officials said there was no indication that drugs and alcohol were a factor in the accident, but they do believe the boat was going at an extreme rate of speed when the crash occurred. None of the men on board, including the 27-year-old and 25-year-old friends of Fernandez, were wearing life jackets. The cause of death for the Marlins’ right-hander has been determined to be trauma and not drowning. The boat was regularly seen in the waters where it crashed, so the area would not have been unfamiliar to the operator.
Sunday’s game at Marlins Park was cancelled as teammates and fans tried to handle the grief of losing one of the team’s stars. The 2013 National League Rookie of the Year was originally scheduled to pitch Sunday afternoon but had his start pushed to Monday in order to give him an extra day of rest following a brilliant 8-inning, 111-pitch performance earlier in the week. Fernandez was practically unbeatable on his home field with 29 wins and only 2 losses over his four seasons in the major leagues.
The boating accident and death of Jose Fernandez has affected fans and players not only in Miami but across the country. The Cuban-born pitcher reached the United States when he was 15-years-old on his fourth attempt to defect from his home country. He even jumped into water to save his mother when she fell overboard. Fernandez was drafted by the Marlins in 2011 and became a U.S. citizen in 2015. He had just recently shared the news that he and his girlfriend were expecting a baby girl.
Whether operator error or defective equipment contributed to the high rate of speed that caused the accident has yet to be determined. The crash is a horrific reminder of the dangers of being out in a boat, even in familiar waters. If you or a loved one has been injured in a boating accident, please call the experienced and compassionate attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C., today.