The death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez has slowly evolved from a tribute to a hometown hero killed in a horrible accident to a bitter lesson about the excesses of fame and wealth and youth.
The latest news on Thursday — that a drunken Fernandez, 24, was piloting his boat at reckless speed in the dark of night — is confirmation that his actions ended three lives, including his own. That remains a heartbreaking truth.
The report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed what has slowly been coming into focus since the September 2016 accident: that Fernandez’s carelessness, bravado, drinking and cocaine use doomed everyone who came along with him for a night ride on Biscayne Bay.
An ill-advised adventure, for sure. But Fernandez was famous, and when he wanted to blow off some steam with a boat ride into the darkness, no one stopped him. Could they have?
The investigators’ conclusion — that the blame for the accident lies squarely on Fernandez — marks the denouement of this tragedy.
All that’s left now are the lawsuits and legal wrangling, as the splitting up of Fernandez’s inheritance moves to the courtroom. Attorney Ralph Fernandez, who represents the baseball player’s family, disputes the investigators’ conclusions of what caused the horrible accident.
Miami gave the baseball ace a send off fitting of a local hero. Now we know that had he been the only survivor, Fernandez would have likely been charged with several crimes, including manslaughter for causing the death of his two passengers — Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25 — the people the player convinced to accompany him that night.
Fernandez was charismatic and friendly, and fans loved to watch him pitch. He was fearless on the mound and that abandonment that made him so promising likely fueled the tragedy that night. Sadly, his image is now tarnished.
But we can’t forget he was a once a young star with such a bright future. He was going to make millions, put the Marlins on the map, and carry Miami and the Cuban exile community along with him.
Fernandez’s Cuba-to-Miami story has collapsed from a wonderful realization of the American dream to a Greek tragedy. Our mourning for him now comes with a shake of the head.
Here’s the worst part: Parents once would tell their baseball-loving sons: “Try to be like Jose,” but not any more.