Autopsy and toxicology reports have confirmed that Miami Marlins baseballer Jose Fernandez was drunk and had cocaine in his system when he died in a boating accident.
The 24-year-old’s death rocked the United States in September when a 32-foot boat he and two friends were travelling in crashed into a jetty off Miami Beach. All three men died in the accident.
Fernandez was a highly promising player who made 55 appearances for the Marlins as a pitcher.
A toxicology report released on Sunday (AEDT) showed that Fernandez, the 2013 MLB National League Rookie of the Year, had a blood alcohol level of 0.147 – nearly double Florida’s legal limit of 0.08.
The report also confirmed that Fernandez had cocaine in his blood.
The two other passengers on the boat, 27-year-old Emilio Jesus Macias and Eduardo Rivero, 25, had alcohol in their system as well – but they were below legal limits.
Like Fernandez, Rivero also tested positive for cocaine.
The boat that crashed was owned by Fernandez but a lawyer for his family said he was not driving the boat.
Authorities deemed that Fernandez died due to the impact of the crash, and not drowning.
Fernandez had announced he was to become a father for the first time just six days before his tragic death.
He had posted a photo online of his girlfriend and said: “I’m so glad you came into my life. I’m ready for where this journey is going to take us together. #familyfirst”
The Fernandez story
Jose Fernandez was a popular figure in the US – not just because of his baseball ability but his inspiring backstory.
By the age of 16, he had tried to defect from Cuba on four occasions.
He failed on each of his first three attempts, serving a prison term each time, and on the fourth, his mother – who he was travelling with – fell off a boat and into turbulent waters.
Fernandez dived into the ocean to save her from drowning as the pair, finally, successfully fled Cuba.
He then set his sights on achieving his Major League Baseball dream and after being taken at pick 14 in the 2011 draft by the Marlins, Fernandez quickly burst onto the scene.
Fernandez, who so often had a smile on his face, was tipped to have a long and successful career and, according to Marlins president David Samson, was a role model in both Florida and Cuba.
“This was a loss not just in the baseball world, but a loss in the community,” Samson said.
“Jose Fernandez represented the possibility of freedom and the possibility of what American can mean to the Cuban people.”
Fernandez’s passing was marked by a series of tributes from his Miami teammates in a 7-3 win over the New York Mets in September.
Marlins players all wore a shirt with his name and number, 16, written on it during the match.
Miami have retired the number 16 in honour of Fernandez.