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Sports

Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández dies in boating accident

The 24 year-old baseball star was one of three people who died after their boat hit rocks off Miami Beach.
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25 Sep 2016 – 10:07 AM EDT

José Fernández, the Cuban-born pitching ace for the Miami Marlins baseball team, died Sunday in an early morning boating crash in Miami Beach, Florida, according to the Coast Guard. He was 24.

Fernández was a hometown hero to many after he fled Cuba by boat at age 15. The Miami Herald newspaper dedicated an editorial to him saying simply: "There's been a death in the family."

Two other people killed in the accident were friends of Fernández, the Coast Guard said.

During a press conference Sunday, the Coast Guard said speed appeared to be a factor in the accident, but there was no indication of alcohol or illegal drugs involved. It was not known who was driving the boat.


The 32-foot-long boat was found upside down on a rocky jetty at 3:30 a.m. Sunday near the entrance to the port of Miami, known as Government Cut, a busy channel at the southern tip of Miami Beach, which is used by pleasure craft, cruise ships and container vessels. The Miami Dade Fire Department released a photo of the crash site.

The channel can be dangerous at night when there is high tide as the sea covers the jetty rocks that line the entrance to the port, said Danny Kollwitz, with the charter sport fishing boat, L&H. “There’s no speed limit and the illumination’s not great," he said.

Kollwitz was out catching swordfish on Saturday night and passed the accident scene as he returned early Sunday. “We saw the boat. Looks like it smoked those rocks and flipped. It was upside down, the whole fiberglass bottom was ripped out,” he said.

Curt Obront, an avid boater and criminal defense lawyer said "it looks as though the boat was running south inside the outer marker which is an accident waiting to happen because the jetty wall sticks out."

A wrongful death lawsuit could be filed against the driver of the boat, Obront added.


FL

Miami

Miami Beach

MIAMI

Accident site

3 km

2 mi

Miami Beach

South Point Park

Government Cut

Accident

site

Rocks

Fisher

Island

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two other people died after plunging into the rocks south of Miami Beach.

32 foot

The sport boat, a Sea Vee vessel, had a maximum speed of 60 mph.

FL

Miami

Miami Beach

MIAMI

Accident site

3 km

2 mi

Miami Beach

South Point Park

Government Cut

Accident

site

Rocks

Fisher

Island

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two other people died after plunging into the rocks south of Miami Beach.

32 foot

The sport boat, a Sea Vee vessel, had a maximum speed of 60 mph.

Miami Beach

FL

Miami

South Point Park

Government Cut

Accident site

Rocks

Fisher

Island

Sunday, September 25

3:30 a.m. (approximate time)

32 foot

The sport boat, a Sea Vee vessel, had a maximum speed of 60 mph.

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two other people died after plunging into the rocks south of Miami Beach.

Miami Beach

Miami Beach

MIAMI

FL

Miami

3 km

Accident site

2 mi

South Point Park

Government Cut

Accident site

Rocks

Fisher

Island

32 foot

Sunday, September 25

3:30 a.m. (approximate time)

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two other people died after plunging into the rocks south of Miami Beach.

The sport boat, a Sea Vee vessel, had a maximum speed of 60 mph

FUENTE: Agencias | UNIVISION

Born in Santa Clara, Cuba, Fernández defected to the United States in 2008 at age 15. During the boat journey to the U.S., his mother fell overboard and he rescued her. He became a U.S. citizen in 2015.

"The Marlins pitcher with the golden arm made it across the Florida Straits to this country on a boat fleeing Cuba," the Miami Herald wrote in its editorial. "Early Sunday, another boat ride, this one for fun, ferried him away forever."

Last week, Fernández announced on Instagram that his girlfriend Maria Arias was pregnant. "I'm so glad you came into my life. I'm ready for where this journey is gonna take us together. #familyfirst," he wrote.

A starting pitcher known for his electric fastball and competitive flair, he was a first-round draft pick for the Marlins in 2011, and a two-time major league All-Star.

"He was a pitcher primed for the record books," the Miami Herald wrote in its Monday editorial.

Fernández pitched the last game of his career against the Washington Nationals on Wednesday, striking out 12 batters over eight innings in a 1-0 win. Over his brief career he puit together a remarkable home record, with 29 wins and only 2 losses in 42 starts.


It was his best performance of the season, baseball commentators said. After the game Fernández told one teammate he felt it was the best start in his short career, third baseman Martin Prado told the media.

Fernández was due to pitch on Sunday, in what would have been his last start of the season.

“The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time,” the team said in a statement.

Team executives and Marlins manager Don Mattingly were barely able to speak through their grief at a tearful press conference.

“When I think about Jose, I see such a little boy,” Mattingly said. “The way he played, there was just joy with him.”

He added, choking up as he spoke: “When he pitched … you just see that little kid that you see when you watch kids play Little League or something like that. That’s the joy that Jose played with.”

Sunday's Marlins home game against Atlanta was cancelled. Fans came to the stadium anyway to pay their respects. The team store quickly sold out of all Fernández #16 shirts.

Sports columnist Dan Le Batard said Fernández was a rare type of player in today's professional game. "Fernandez played the way the best Latin music feels," he wrote. "He acted like a little boy in a sports world soaked with adult problems and cynicisms that can make us lose sight of the root verb at the center of what he did for a living. To play."

RELACIONADOS:SportsJosé FernándezMiami MarlinsUnited States
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