When Marlins baseball star Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident last year, it sent shockwaves through his Florida community. Not only did the Marlins lose a beloved pitcher, but the athlete left behind his girlfriend who was pregnant with his daughter. In the months following the crash, experts could not definitively identify what had caused the boat to crash, but it was revealed that Fernandez and another passenger both had alcohol and cocaine in their systems.
In mid-March 2017, a 46-page investigative report was released by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The details exposed in the report have major implications, especially on the wrongful death lawsuits filed by the families of the two men who were passengers on Fernandez’s boat the night of the crash.
In light of the new report, it has been confirmed that Fernandez’s boat crashed into a jetty off the coast of Miami Beach while cruising at a speed of 65 miles per hour. Upon the crash, all men were thrown from the boat, and investigators found them either pinned under the boat, trapped under a boulder, or submerged in a tidal pool. Most importantly, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission probe confirmed what Fernandez’s attorney had long denied, which was that he indeed had been driving the boat when it crashed.
Overall, the report concludes, “Fernandez operated the [vessel] with his normal faculties impaired, in a reckless manner, in the darkness of night, in an area with known navigational hazards such as the rock jetties and channel markers. …Fernandez’s impairment and manner of operation caused the accident which resulted in his death and the death of his occupants, Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Macias.”
This meaningful portion of the report, along with the section stating that Fernandez “could have faced charges of manslaughter, for boating while intoxicated, vessel homicide and reckless or careless operation” if he had survived, are sure to be heavily emphasized in the upcoming wrongful death lawsuits for Rivero and Macias. Both families are seeking $2 million in damages, but Fernandez’s estate is only worth between $2 to 3 million, not enough to cover such damages. Furthermore, the estate is meant to be split between Fernandez’s mother and girlfriend, who recently gave birth to their baby girl. Sadly, it’s a tragic situation with no real winners.