Miami Marlins pitching ace, José Fernández, was killed in a boating accident off the coast of Miami, Fla. early Sunday morning. Fernández, 24, was the Marlins’ go-to pitcher and one of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) promising young talents.
Coast Guard officials on patrol in Florida discovered a 32-foot boat up-ended at the end of a jetty at the opening of Miami Harbor, finding Fernández and two other men dead at the scene shortly after 3:15 a.m. Two of the bodies were found under the boat and a diving team found the third victim near the rocks the boat crashed into. The identities of the other two men are being withheld from the public until relatives are notified. Both were close friends with Fernández.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission Public Information Officer Lorenzo Veloz called Fernández’s death a loss for Miami, the sport of baseball and anyone who had ever met Fernández.
“He was pillar to our community, he was involved in everything that he could be to give back,” Veloz said during a press conference on Sunday morning. “I had the experience of talking to him several times, down-to-earth, great person…I’m sorry I’m getting goosebumps right now, it’s really hitting home and it’s horrible.”
Based on evidence gathered at the scene of the accident, Florida officials believe the boat made impact with the rocks at full speed. The boat did not belong to Fernández. According to investigators, drugs and alcohol do not currently appear to be factors in the accident, however they have been unable to get underneath the overturned boat for further investigation. Autopsies are yet to be conducted on any of the three victims who were not wearing life vests at the time of the accident.
“José is a member of this family for all time. His story is representative of a story of hope and of love and of faith and no one will ever let that story die,” Marlins President David Samson said during a team news conference.
Fernández emigrated to the United States, escaping Cuba at the age of 15 in 2008 after three previous unsuccessful attempts and was drafted by the Marlins in 2011. Not long after, Fernández became the team’s star pitcher, received the National League Rookie of the Year honors in 2013 and played in two All-Star games.
“We are stunned and devastated,” Major League Baseball said in an official statement.
Five days before his death, Fernández posted a picture on his Instagram account of his pregnant girlfriend with the caption: “I’m so glad you came into my life. I’m ready for where this journey is gonna take us together.”
Fernández was 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA on the mound this season. In his brief career, Fernández posted a 38-17 record and a 2.58 career ERA in 76 starts for the Marlins franchise.
Sunday’s scheduled game between the Miami Marlins and Atlanta Braves was canceled by the MLB.