BASEBALL

Cocaine and alcohol played role in death of Cuban baseball idol José Fernández

Post-mortem of athlete and two friends killed in boating accident revealed narcotics use

Miami Marlins star pitcher José Fernández had cocaine and alcohol in his blood system when his motor cruiser crashed into a rock jetty off Miami Beach on September 25, killing him and two friends, toxicology reports have revealed.

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The autopsy report released on Saturday by the Miami-Dade County medical examiner’s office added that the two friends aboard the Kaught Looking, a 32-foot Sea Vee owned by Fernández, Emilio Macías, aged 27, and Eduardo Rivero, aged 25, also tested positive, although their levels were below Florida’s legal limit.

Fernández had nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol in his system and the autopsy also revealed traces of cocaine and substances often used to cut the drug, according to the report.

Fernández was earning $3 million a year and he and his partner were expecting their first child

It is not clear whether Cuban-born Fernandez, 24, was at the controls of the boat at the time of the crash, which took place around 3am. The three sustained “blunt-force injuries to the head and body,” according to the report.

The bodies had a strong odor of alcohol on them when they were recovered by divers, and investigators found evidence that the boat was speeding when it slammed into the jetty, according to a search warrant affidavit released earlier in the week by the Miami-Dade County state attorney’s office.

The affidavit said officials had recovered a receipt for alcohol from a bar in Miami Beach where the three men had been before the crash.

Fernández, the National League rookie of the year in 2013 and a two-time All-Star, was an idol for Cuban-American baseball fans.

The Marlins and Miami’s Cuban community were devastated by the loss of one of their brightest stars. Fernández, who had been jailed after three failed attempts to defect from Cuba, finally succeeded in 2007. With his mother, he settled in Tampa in 2008 and was the Marlins first-round pick in the 2011 draft.

He was already earning $3 million a year and he and his partner were expecting their first child. His death prompted an outpouring of grief in Miami, with thousands turning out to accompany his funeral cortege through the streets of the city.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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