Witness suggests Jose Fernandez wasn't driving boat at time of fatal accident

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According to one witness, Jose Fernandez was not likely driving at the time his boat crashed, killing him, 27-year-old Emilio Jesus Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero on the morning of Sept. 25. (AP)
According to one witness, Jose Fernandez was not likely driving at the time his boat crashed, killing him, 27-year-old Emilio Jesus Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero on the morning of Sept. 25. (AP)

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was legally drunk and had cocaine in his system at the time his boat crashed into a Miami Beach jetty, according to toxicology reports released Saturday.

However, it remains unclear whether Fernandez, the boat’s owner, or one of two others on board, 27-year-old Emilio Jesus Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero, was driving when the boat crashed on Sept. 25, killing all three men.

According to an Associated Press report on Sunday, at least one witness in direct contact with Fernandez that evening has come forward suggesting the 24-year-old was not driving in the moments before the accident.

Here’s more from the AP:

Authorities have interviewed a “highly reliable” witness who said he was on the phone with Fernandez just before the crash and heard the pitcher giving another person directions about where to steer the boat, he said.

“If you tell me that he’d been drinking, I’d say, ‘So?’ He wasn’t driving — and he was very careful about that,” family attorney Ralph E. Fernandez added.

Authorities will continue trying to piece together evidence that might make it clearer who was driving at the moment of impact. Given the tragic outcome, that might seem inconsequential, but in case of future litigation it’s a highly important detail.

Tampa-based attorney Ralph E. Fernandez, who is not related to the Fernandez family, also suggested that toxicology reports revealed behavior not consistent with the Jose Fernandez he’d known.

Cocaine use would be out of character for Fernandez, and the toxicology reports raise more questions than they answer about what happened that night, said the Fernandez family’s Tampa-based attorney and longtime friend, Ralph E. Fernandez.

“That leads me to think, could this be an isolated incident? Yes. Could this have been involuntary? Yes. Why do you think there’s still a criminal investigation pending?” said the attorney, who isn’t related to the pitcher.

Fernandez’s blood-alcohol level was 0.147, almost twice the legal limit of .08., according to Saturday’s report. The report also showed both Macias and Rivero also had alcohol levels below the state’s legal limit, while Rivero also had cocaine in his system.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!