One month after the boat crash that killed Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two other men, evidence has surfaced that suggests all three men were intoxicated when they died.
The Miami Herald reports that Fernandez, 24, and two other men were out for a ride in his 32-foot SeaVee named “Kaught Looking” on September 25. Just before dawn, the boat crashed into the Government Cut jetty off South Beach, killing Fernandez, Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25.
According to a search warrant affidavit obtained to allow investigators with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to search the wreckage of Fernandez’ boat, a strong odor of alcohol was noted by the divers who recovered each of the three bodies after the crash. The associate medical director who participated in the men’s autopsies also told Fish and Wildlife Officer Christina Martin that “all three bodies, individually, had a strong odor of alcohol emanating from them.” Autopsies for the men have been completed, but the results have not yet been released.
In addition to the smell of alcohol on each of the deceased men, investigators also report that Fernandez was seen at a local bar before the crash and that one of the men had a receipt for alcohol purchased that day in his pocket.
It has yet to be confirmed who was driving the boat at the time of the wreck. However, even though all three men aboard the boat perished that night, it is highly possible that once the driver is confirmed there may be some civil charges against his estate. Either Fernandez may be found negligent for driving under the influence. He could also be found negligent for allowing another intoxicated person drive the boat, and that driver could be found negligent, as well. People close to Fernandez say that it is most likely that he was driving, especially since he had only recently met the two other men onboard and neither had much boating experience.
Earlier on the night of the crash, Fernandez reportedly had an argument with his girlfriend, who is expecting his child. Teammates have stated that he asked them to join him on the boat, and one also said he discouraged Fernandez from going out on the water that night. When one of the passengers of the boat, Eduardo Rivero, texted a friend that he was going on a late-night boat ride with a man who may be unstable, he, too, was encouraged to stay ashore. In response, Rivero reportedly told his friend, “Trust me it’s not my time yet,” but he did agree to turn on his phone’s GPS.
After leaving a South Beach bar where they had docked at some time after 2:30 a.m., it is unknown where the three men went. At 3:20 a.m., a Miami Beach police officer on land heard the impact the boat made with the jetty and called fire and rescue. The boat was soon discovered turned upside down on the jetty by the Coast Guard and the bodies were recovered by 4:00 a.m.
Given the appearance of the boat wreckage at the crash site, experts say it is likely that the boat was traveling at a high rate of speed.
Technically, since Fernandez’ boat was a registered as a pleasure craft he was not legally obligated to have any training or certification to pilot it. Still, it is possible that he may be civilly charged with negligence in this matter.
In addition to the possible fault of the driver of the boat, it may also be possible that victims’ families could allege that the jetty itself was unsafe. This is not the first vessel to crash into this jetty, the rocks of which may be difficult to see at high tide. Though the Coast Guard recently reviewed this jetty and declared it safe, they have agreed to conduct a new examination into the area and have been asked by boaters to put lights on the jetties in the area.
Florida is known as an ideal place to engage in water sports and other activities which involve boats, which means that our state frequently leads the nation in boating accidents and fatalities. When a fun day or evening on the water turns to a tragedy, our experienced Florida boating accident attorneys help victims and their loved ones recover just compensation for their suffering and damages. To learn more, please contact us for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer.