José Fernández: Marlins Star Pitcher Killed In Boating Accident At Age 24

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September 26, 2016


by Richard Luscombe (TheGuardian) Authorities in Florida are investigating the death of one of baseball’s best young players, the Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández, who was killed in a boating accident in Miami Beach early Sunday.

Divers from the Miami-Dade fire rescue department recovered the bodies of Fernández, 24, and two friends from the water after the crew of a coastguard patrol boat spotted their upturned vessel at about 3.15am, it was announced at a Sunday morning press conference.

Officer Lorenzo Velos, of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, said the 32ft boat struck an unlit rock jetty at Government Cut, at the south end of Miami Beach, and flipped over, trapping two of the victims underneath. The third body was recovered nearby.

“It does appear that speed was involved due to the impact and the severity of it,” Velos said. “It appears they were coming at full speed when they encountered the jetty. There was not much evidence on the vessel, everything was in the water, [but] there was no indication of alcohol or any type of illegal drugs.”

None of the victims were wearing life vests, he added.

“The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time,” the team said in the statement.

Fernández was widely considered one of the sport’s brightest young stars. He defected from Cuba as a teenager in 2008, fleeing on a speedboat after thwarted earlier efforts led to time in prison as a punishment. During his successful attempt, he dived into the water to rescue a woman who had fallen overboard, only to find it was his own mother.

Fernández’s potential was noticed while he was in high school in Tampa. He quickly established himself as a rising prospect during his first season with the Marlins, being named the National League’s rookie of the year in 2013.

His career stalled after just eight starts in the 2014 season, and he took the rest of the year off to recover from Tommy John surgery to reconstruct injured elbow ligaments. This year, with the Marlins just hanging on to play-off contention, Fernández was enjoying his best season, having won 16 of his 29 starts.

He was also about to become a father. His girlfriend is expecting the couple’s first baby, Fernández announcing the pregnancy in an Instagram post last week with the words: “I’m ready for where this journey is gonna take us together. #familyfirst.”

Fans began to gather at Marlins Park on Sunday morning. Current and former players also paid tribute to Fernández on Sunday. “Hands down one of my favorite guys to watch pitch. He brought nothing but intensity and passion,” the Boston Red Sox pitcher David Price said on Twitter.

The former Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez described losing a “remarkable” player. “I’m still in shock,” Sanchez said on Twitter. “The world has lost a remarkable person. You will be missed and my heart goes out to the Fernández family.”

Courtesy of Guardian News & Media Ltd

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