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Star pitcher was driving boat in fatal crash

Posted at 1:03 PM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 13:03:02-04

Miami Marlins star pitcher José Fernández was at the helm of the boat that crashed off Miami Beach last September, killing him and two friends, according to an investigative report on the incident.

The 24-year-old pitching sensation’s fingerprint and DNA were found on the steering wheel, and his DNA was also found on the throttle of the 32-foot vessel named “Kaught Looking,” according to the final incident report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Fernández owned the vessel, which was traveling at about 66 mph when it struck a jetty near Miami Beach in the early morning hours of September 25, according to digital forensic analysis of its GPS units, the report said.

Fernández had cocaine in his system and was legally drunk, with a blood-alcohol concentration of .147, according to the report.

“Fernández operated … with his normal faculties impaired, in a reckless manner, at an extremely high rate of speed, in the darkness of night, in an area with known navigational hazards such as rock jetties and channel markers,” the report said.

Investigators concluded that Fernández violated a number of state laws, including boating under the influence manslaughter, vessel homicide, and reckless or careless operation of a vessel.

Fernández suffered blunt-force injuries to the head and torso, along with skull and jaw fractures during the crash.

The Marlins pitcher and two friends, Emilio Jesus Macias and Eduardo Rivero, were found dead later that morning after their boat was discovered near South Pointe Beach on Government Cut.

At the time of the crash, Macias was standing near the vessel’s front center console and Rivero was standing behind the center console seat, according to the report.

Coast Guard personnel on patrol noticed the vessel upside down on the north end of a rocky jetty shortly after 3:15 a.m.

Autopsies determined that Macias and Rivero had levels of alcohol below the legal limit in Florida, which is .08. Rivero also had traces of cocaine in his system, the medical examiner’s report said.

A native of Santa Clara, Cuba, Fernández was a beloved sports figure in the city where so many of his countrymen have settled and prospered. Drafted by the Marlins in 2011, he rose to become the franchise’s marquee pitcher, the National League Rookie of the Year 2013 and a two-time all-star.

His death stunned Miami and the baseball world, where he was a popular figure with teammates and opponents.