Miami Baseball Star, José Fernández, Dies in Boating Accident

September 29, 2016 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Miami Baseball Star, José Fernández, Dies in Boating Accident

By now, most people have heard that baseball star José Fernández died in a boating accident early Sunday morning, September 25, 2016.

Fernández defected from Cuba at the age of 15—after trying three other times—before becoming one of the best pitchers in the MLB. At the time of his death, Fernández pitched for the Miami Marlins.

Fernández, who was 24, and two of his male friends, were found dead after their boat was discovered at the entrance of Miami Harbor. This is according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Lorenzo Veloz.

Veloz noted that around 3:15 AM, the Coast Guard spotted the 32-foot SeaVee boat while on patrol. It was upside-down on a jetty—a grouping of rocks that jet out into a body of water.

At first, the Florida FWC and investigators seem to have most of the answers about what happened, but today we are learning that Veloz and others may have misspoken about the details of the horrible accident.

The first piece of information that's in question is, “who owned the boat?”

On Sunday, in a press conference about the incident, Veloz stated, “It was not José's boat.

“It does pertain to a friend of José's who is very well connected with several Marlins players,” he continued.

On Monday, as the agency began looking further into what Fernández and his friends were doing, where they were going, and the evidence generated during the violent crash, a different spokesman confirmed that the boat—named “Kaught Looking,” did indeed belong to Fernández. They are also looking into what, if any, boating laws were broken.

Further, it was stated on Sunday that the boat was running at full speed and that alcohol appeared to not be involved. Now, these statements are being questioned as well.

Tuesday, it was released that toxicology reports were being run on the deceased.

“Without getting into semantics on this, I can say that Officer Veloz made some statements at that press conference that were speculative in nature as well as anecdotal in nature. Unfortunately, we're unable to confirm some of what he said,” Officer Robert Klepper, a different spokesman for FWC, said Tuesday during an interview. “He misspoke. He made a mistake.”

Since Sunday's news conference, more information has surfaced about what Fernández was doing before the crash, important information when it comes to what happened, who may have been at fault, and if there was alcohol involved. After all, it is a tragedy that the young baseball star is dead, but it also a tragedy that two other young men lost their lives as well. For this reason, it must be thoroughly investigated to see what and how this happened.

After a Marlins game on Saturday, Fernández put his boat Kaught Looking in the water. Around 1:00 AM, he docked the boat at American Social Bar & Kitchen on the Miami River.

When Fernández arrived at the bar/restaurant, his friend Eduardo Rivero, 25, was already with him. While at the location, Fernández and Rivero picked up Emilio Macias, 27, a friend of Rivero whom Fernández had never met. Rivero lived in a condo on the same site as the bar.

How much they had to drink, if any, is not known.

After their time at the bar/condo, Fernández, Macias, and Rivero got into his boat and they headed out. At the time of their departure, and later when it crashed, it is not known who was steering the boat.

Around 3:15 AM, a U.S. Coast Guard vessel spotted Kaught Looking overturned and with a large gash in its side on Government Cut jetty.

Two of the men were trapped beneath the boat. A third was in the water. None of them were wearing a life vest. All three were dead.

Spokesperson Klepper stated, “FWC investigators are conducting a thorough and complete investigation of this tragedy.”

Florida Boating Accidents

As the state with the most coastline—besides Alaska—Florida is a popular place for recreational boating. Florida is hot and sunny, boating is relaxing and fun. But the recreational activity has its own inherent risks and dangers.

Boating creates a whole different set of issues than something like driving a car or motorcycle. Boats do not have their own lanes, making collisions more likely. Boats are also getting more and more powerful, creating more speed and more danger. Boats do not have seatbelts, for obvious reasons, but this increases the risk of flying out at high speeds. Boating also creates situations in which an object can be hidden from view. While driving a car a hazard can't exactly be tucked away under the road. Take these things into account—plus unpredictable weather, inexperienced drivers, congested waterways, drinking while boating, and crowded vessels—and you have a recipe for potential serious injury or death.

Significant injury in the event of a boating accident may include traumatic brain injury, disfigurement, amputations, and death from impact or drowning.

Like the story above, it is also possible for your loved one to die in a boating accident. Whether or not the above story involves negligence, faulty equipment, or intentional acts is not known. However, these things do happen and happen often.

As a result, it is advisable for anyone who has been involved in a boating accident to discuss their case with an experienced boating accident attorney as soon as possible after the accident. An attorney familiar with handling boating accident cases will be able to review the facts of your case and help you determine whether and against whom you may have a claim.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has been handling boating accidents in the Tampa Bay–Clearwater area for years. We have helped hundreds of clients to pay for the damages they suffered from no fault of their own. It is not fair to have to live and deal with unexpected injuries, and have to pay for it all on your own.

Call the experienced, devoted attorneys of Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today at (727) 451-6900.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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