CHICAGO — The emotional wounds left by the tragic death of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez were re-opened Saturday afternoon when it was revealed that he had both alcohol and cocaine in his system at the time of his fatal boat accident, according to toxicology reports.
Fernandez, 24, and two of his friends died in the Sept. 25 crash when the pitcher’s boat, “Kaught Looking,” ran into a jetty off Miami Beach. The Cuban star’s shocking death rocked both the baseball world and the South Florida community, where Fernandez was hailed as a local hero. The day after the crash, amid the franchise’s grief, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria went as far as to say no Miami player will wear Fernandez’s No. 16 again.
Before Saturday night’s Game 4 of the World Series, commissioner Rob Manfred declined comment about the newly released Fernandez findings, saying the autopsy report was “not even official.”
Saturday’s revelation, however, puts the incident in a slightly different light even though Miami authorities still don’t know who was piloting Fernandez’s boat. According to the autopsy reports, Fernandez had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.147, easily above the 0.08 legal limit imposed by the state of Florida.
As for the cause of the accident, Associate Medical Examiner Kenneth Hutchins listed it as a “boat crash” that killed Fernandez, Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25.
Macias and Rivero were below the state’s legal alcohol limit, but Rivero was found to have cocaine in his system.
The three friends had been out earlier that night at the American Social Bar & Kitchen, a riverside restaurant that has a dock where Fernandez’s boat had been tied up for the visit. When the bodies initially were discovered, they had a strong odor of alchohol on them, according to an affidavit released by the State Attorney’s Office. Furthermore, Miami authorities had discovered a receipt for alcohol from the restaurant.
The timing of Saturday’s announcement, more than a month after the crash, was because of the fact that the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which investigated the incident, had refused to make the details available. But a public-records lawsuit filed by the Miami Herald ultimately forced the information to be released, and that’s why it finally was revealed Saturday.
In the aftermath of Fernandez’s death, the Marlins held a tearful tribute before the next night’s game against the visiting Mets, with many of the players writing their own tributes in white on their black caps. After the Marlins’ victory, they gathered around the pitcher’s mound, which had a black No. 16 painted behind the rubber, and locked arms, standing shoulder to shoulder. The Marlins also left their caps and the game ball on the mound before heading to the dugout.
“All I can say is that he’s up in there in heaven with all the great players that left before their time: Gehrig, Clemente, Munson,” Loria said then. “And sadly Jose.”
The next day, the team held a memorial outside Marlins Park, the start of a motorcade that carried Fernandez’s casket. Hundreds were in attendance to usher him through the street, including Loria, manager Don Mattingly and all of the Marlins. With AP