An investigation by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission has determined that former Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was responsible for the violent boat crash that killed him and two others off the coast of South Beach last September.
According to David Ovalle of the Miami Herald, the investigation determined that Fernandez was driving the boat at top speed (65 mph) the night it crashed, and he was intoxicated while doing it. Those two findings ultimately led to the conclusion that Fernandez was responsible for the accident.
“Fernandez operated [the boat] with his normal faculties impaired, in a reckless manner, at an extreme high rate of speed, in the darkness of the night, in an area with known navigational hazards such as rock jetties and channel markers,” the report concluded.
Since the crash on Sept. 25, Fernandez’s attorney has maintained that Fernandez was not driving the boat that night, pointing to a phone conversation between Fernandez and nightclub manager Yuri Perez that was supposedly taking place when the crash occurred. But phone records show that call happened more than ten minutes before the time of the accident. Additionally, investigators say Fernandez’s injuries prove that he was behind the wheel.
Investigators made the conclusion because the physical damage to Fernandez’s body matched the damage on the boat’s center console. His DNA was also found on the throttle and steering wheel.
The news that Fernandez was driving the boat while intoxicated (with both alcohol and cocaine) is disappointing. But in a statement, Marlins President David Samson contends these new facts won’t change how Marlins fans feel about Fernandez.
“No matter what the report has concluded, nothing will ever diminish Jose’s everlasting positive connection with Miami and the Miami Marlins,” team President David Samson said in a statement. “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 accident happened when Fernandez’s boat, named Kaught Looking, slammed into the Government Cut north jetty off Miami Beach. Two others were killed in the crash: Emilio Jesus Macias and Eduardo Rivero.
The investigator’s report pointed out that if Fernandez had survived the accident, he would have been held legally responsible and probably charged with several crimes, including manslaughter, vessel homicide and reckless or careless operation of a vessel. The families of Macias and Rivero have filed negligence suits against Fernandez’s estate, which his mother and girlfriend now control.
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