Miami baseball star Fernandez was drunk, had cocaine in system at fatal crash

Sat Oct 29, 2016 8:53pm EDT
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(Reuters) - Miami Marlins star Jose Fernandez, a dominant pro baseball pitcher and hero in Miami's Cuban community, was legally drunk and had cocaine in his system when he was killed in a boat crash in late September, an autopsy and toxicology report released on Saturday found.

The toxicology report showed Fernandez had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.147, nearly twice the legal limit of 0.08 for driving in Florida, and also had cocaine in his blood.

Fernandez, 24, and two other men were killed before dawn on Sept. 25 when their 32-foot boat struck a rock jetty off Miami Beach, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. It was unclear who was driving the boat.

Born and raised in Cuba, Fernandez tried three times to defect to the United States before arriving at age 15 with his mother, surviving harrowing conditions at sea.

The Marlins drafted Fernandez in the first round in 2011. He won National League Rookie of the Year in 2013 and was a two-time Major League Baseball all-star.

Ralph Fernandez, an attorney for the pitcher's family and a longtime friend who said he considered him like a son, said he was angry and disappointed at the report's release before the details of a full investigation are known.

"If indeed there was cocaine in his system, whatever the nominal amount is, still it is something that's completely out of character,” Fernandez said.

The attorney said there was evidence that just before the crash, the pitcher was talking on a phone with a man who heard the player giving someone else directions on driving the boat, then a loud noise and the call dropped.

"Definitely, he wasn't driving," Fernandez said.   Continued...

Sep 27, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; A moment of silence is observed for Miami Marlins Jose Fernandez who was killed in a boating accident prior to the New York Yankees taking on the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports