Florida Marlins' pitcher Jose Fernandez is one of three people who died Sunday morning in a boating accident off Miami Beach. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to a report of a 32-foot boat that crashed into the north jetty of the Government Cut inlet. Fire Rescue Chief, Todd Garofalo, stated that an "initial search [found] three victims - two on top of the water, one underneath the boat..." The identities of the other victims have not been released. Details on how the boat ended up on the jetty and who was the operator are unknown at this time. Government Cut is the main waterway connecting the Port of Miami to the Atlantic Ocean.
Fernandez, 24, was born in Cuba and emigrated to the United States with his family in 2008 after three prior unsuccessful defection attempts. At just 15 years of age, he was jailed for defection. According to news sources, Fernandez saved his mother from drowning on the journey to Mexico after leaving Cuba. Fernandez and his family settled in Tampa where he attended Alonso High School. He was a 2011 first-round draft pick of the Marlins and was selected to play in the National League All-Star game in his rookie season. Last week, Fernandez announced he and his girlfriend, Maria Arias were expecting a child. During today's news conference the Marlins announced the couple was expecting a baby girl. We are saddened by the tragic loss of a stellar player and human being and offer our condolences to his family and the families of the two victims involved in this accident.
New details are emerging from this tragedy. It is being reported that the boat involved in the accident is a 32-foot SeaVee owned by one of Fernandez's friends. A Coast Guard patrol boat from Station Miami Beach spotted the overturned vessel on Government Cut's north jetty at 3:15 a.m. High speed is expected to be a contributing factor in the accident. SeaVee center console boats can reach top speeds of 55 to 65 miles per hour according to the manufacturer. The law requires all vessels be operated at a safe speed so that it can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions. Lights from Miami Beach could also have been a factor in the operator's inability to see the jetty. LED cockpit lights may have also played a role in decreasing the operator's ability to observe the jetty. It is unknown if the vessel was equipped with radar, but if it was, the law requires the use of that radar to its fullest extent to determine the risk of collision.
Miami residents Emilio Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25, have been identified as the other to victims of yesterday's boating tragedy. Macias' family has set up a GoFundMe page for his funeral expenses, describing him as an "amazing son, brother, grandson, boyfriend, cousin, friend." Rivero's family also set up a GoFundMe page for his funeral expenses, describing him as a "beautiful angel" who was "full of life, full of love, and full of happiness. Rivero and Macias both graduated from Miami's Braddock Senior High School in 2009.
We will continue to provide updates as more information is learned.
Photo Credit: ESPN.com