Miami-Dade County

May 9, 2014

Lawsuit filed against DJ Laz, Pitbull’s vodka brand, in boating death of 23-year-old man

Lazaro Mendez, known as DJ Laz, was at the helm of the boat stuck on a sandbar when Ernesto Hernandez, 23, arrived to help. Hernandez was then struck and caught by the motor.

The family of a young man killed in a boating accident has filed suit against South Florida radio personality DJ Laz and Miami rapper Pitbull’s vodka brand, Voli Spirits .

DJ Laz, who’s real name is Lazaro Mendez, was behind the wheel of the promotional boat at the time of the accident when it got stuck on a sandbar at Key Biscayne’s Nixon Beach .

When Ernesto Hernandez, 23, arrived to help, he was struck and fatally slashed by the boat’s motor.

Hernandez’s mother, Maricel Valdez, said her son, who had just graduated from the police academy, was asked to help Mendez’s boat, she said.

“My son always thinks he’s superman,” she said. “He’s the only man of the house.”

Hernandez was among a crowd of people attending the Voli vodka event at Nixon Beach. According to the lawsuit, DJ Laz arrived in a 40-foot Hydro Sport Open Fisherman, which prominently bore the name “Voli” on the side, as well as the name Plantation Boat Mart & Marine.

The boat had dancing, music and plenty of guests aboard. Vodka also was being served, according to the lawsuit.

Around 7 p.m., the boat got stuck. Instead of calling for a nearby sea tow, according to the suit, DJ Laz solicited invitees to help him free the boat from the sandbar.

Hernandez and several others jumped in the water. DJ Laz, according to the suit, “recklessly engaged the throttle of the engines.”

Hernandez was fatally injured by the moving propellers.

“This boy was sliced and killed on the scene,” said family lawyer Carlos E. Silva, who arranged a press conference on Friday to discuss the negligence lawsuit.

“DJ Laz was in charge of hosting. We don’t know what made him act so recklessly.”

The lawsuit also includes Park Street Imports d/b/a Voli Vodka and Plantation Boat Mart & Marine.

However, Plantation Boat Mart’s attorney issued a statement later Friday saying the company did not own the boat and that it was improperly named. Maritime attorney Robert L. Gardana said in a statement that he expected Plantation Boat Mart to be dropped from the suit.

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