Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernandez, an electric fan favorite who eight years ago fled Cuba on a speedboat, was killed early Sunday along with two friends in a violent boat crash off South Beach. He was 24.
Fernandez’s shocking death, the details of which were still being sorted out late Sunday morning, rocked Miami and Major League Baseball and caused the team’s game in Miami against the Atlanta Braves — in which Fernandez was originally scheduled to start before his appearance was moved back to Monday — to be canceled.
“The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernandez. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time,” the franchise said in a statement Sunday.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the 32-foot SeaVee in which Fernandez and two friends were traveling Sunday morning was spotted around 3:15 a.m. Sunday overturned on the jetty that juts into Government Cut from South Pointe Park. Investigators said the boat, which belongs to a close friend of several Miami Marlins players, was heading south at full speed and flipped when it hit the north end of the dark, unlit jetty.
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Fernandez and the two others on board, who have not yet been identified, were killed. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Todd Garofalo told WSVN that first responders found two of the victims on top of the water and one underneath the boat, which had severe damage to its front, left underside.
None of the three on the boat were wearing their life vests.
“It’s a tragic loss for the city of Miami, for the community, for baseball, and for anyone who ever met Jose,” said FWC Officer Lorenzo Veloz, who himself had met Fernandez several times. “I’m sorry. I’m getting goosebumps right now. It’s really hitting home.”
Authorities don’t know the trio’s travel plans Sunday, but say there is no indication that alcohol or illegal drugs were a factor. Autopsies will be conducted by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office.
Fernandez, 24, was considered one of the Marlins biggest stars and one of the best pitchers in baseball. He was the team’s first-round draft pick in 2011 and the National League rookie of the year in 2013. He was finishing up on his finest season in the majors, and expected to make his final start of the season Monday after his appearance Sunday was pushed back.
The death leaves the team, league and much of Miami in shock.
This bulletin will be updated as more information becomes available.