Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernández was under the influence of cocaine and alcohol when he died in a boating accident with two other young men last month off Miami Beach, according to an autopsy released Saturday by the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner's office.
Fernández, 24, was killed when his 32-foot center console boat named “Kaught Looking” hit a jetty at the entrance to the port of Miami around 3.15 am on Sept 25. The two other victims were identified as Emilio Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25.
An autopsy report for Rivero also detected cocaine in his system as well as alcohol. Macias, had consumed alcohol but no drugs, the report said.
Fernández had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.147, almost twice the legal limit of .08 for driving. The two other men both had blood-alcohol levels under the legal limit.
As a result of the crash, Fernández suffered blunt force injuries to the head, including a skull fracture and multiple fractures to the jaw and cheek bones, as well as cuts and bruises to the torso, the autopsy found.
A search warrant affidavit for the vessel released by the Miami-Dade state attorney’s office last week reported that after the bodies of the three men were recovered, a medical examiner noted "a strong odor of alcohol."
The affidavit also stated that the boat was being driven at a "reckless" speed that was "exacerbated by the consumption of alcohol."
It remains unclear if any charges will be brought in the case, though the search warrant affidavit cited possible violations of drunk driving and "vessel homicide" laws. It remains unclear who was driving the boat.
The evidence of cocaine use was a shock to those who knew Fernández and blemished an otherwise stellar legacy. While he was known for his passion and energy he also had a reputation for discipline and hard work, and had no previous record of drug use.
"It's a terribly sad thing," Ralph Fernández, a Tampa attorney who was a close friend of the pitcher and is representing his family, said after receiving word of the autopsy. "Of course it's damaging to his image, but does it in any way overcome his legacy? Definitely not," said Fernández, who is not related to the pitcher.
The attorney said the autopsy was "not definitive," noting it was unclear how the cocaine was ingested. "It was out of character. Jose had standard drug testing at the Marlins. Nothing ever showed," he said.
Univision previously reported that Fernández was spotted by fans drinking at American Social Bar & Kitchen on the Miami River shortly before the crash. One witness said the three men were drinking shots of tequila but did not appear to be drunk.
The Cuban-born All-Star pitcher was having the best season of his brief career and was a home town hero who fled Cuba with his mother in 2005.