Key Biscayne

Biscayne Bay

DJ Laz behind wheel of boat when man killed by propeller


Authorities say Miami music personality DJ Laz, whose real name is Lazaro Mendez, was at the helm of a boat stuck on a sandbar off Key Biscayne when a man came over to help and was killed after getting tangled in the engine.

Authorities say DJ Laz was at the helm of a boat when a man who was trying to help push it off a sandbar got caught in the engine and was killed.
Authorities say DJ Laz was at the helm of a boat when a man who was trying to help push it off a sandbar got caught in the engine and was killed.
Gaston De Cardenas / El Nuevo Herald File

South Florida radio personality DJ Laz , was at the helm of his boat when a man trying to help push it off a sandbar was killed after getting tangled in the motor.

Law enforcement identified the dead man as Ernesto Hernandez, 23, and said he was on another pleasure craft behind Key Biscayne’s old Nixon estate, when he noticed a group trying to push DJ Laz’s 40-foot Hydra Sport open fisherman into deeper water.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is investigating the incident and said the local celebrity, whose real name is Lazaro Mendez, has been cooperating.

FWC Spokesman Jorge Pino said officers are looking into whether alcohol played a part in the accident.

“This is considered an accident investigation,” Pino said. “We have to find out whether navigational rules were broken.”

Pino said Mendez was hosting at least six people on his vessel Off the Air when it got stuck in the sandbar just after 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Several people got out to try and push it off the sand and into deeper water. A video shows the boat with engine in high throttle as others try to push the boat.

According to Pino, Hernandez was aboard a nearby boat with friends and family members.

He jumped out and came over to help. After Hernandez got caught in the engine, witnesses said rescue workers tried to help and covered Hernandez’s body before he was placed in a helicopter and flown to an area hospital.

Patrol officers were already in the area off Nixon Beach keeping an eye on the crowds of boaters on one of the nicest weather days of the year.

“The rescue pulled up next to us with a gentleman in real bad shape. He was covered up. They were pumping him,” boater Frank Alonso told Miami Herald news partner CBS4

On Monday, Mendez posted this statement on his Facebook and Twitter pages:

“I am incredibly distraught over the unfortunate accident that occurred yesterday at Nixon Beach. My family and I send our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Ernesto Hernandez; they are in our thoughts and prayers. I have and will continue to cooperate fully with investigators during this tragic time.”

Boating rules related to drinking alcohol are the same as driving on land. A blood/alcohol level of above .08 is illegal and could come with a charge of boating under the influence.

Mendez, 42, is a Cuban-American rapper and DJ from Miami who gained popularity as a weekday morning radio host for more than two decades. The DJ Laz Morning Show was also heard in Los Angeles. His albums have reached the Billboard charts, and his single Journey Into Bass reached number 56 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 2008.

Read more Key Biscayne stories from the Miami Herald

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