A baseball star, and soon-to-be father, 24-year-old Jose Fernandez, described as one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball, lost his life due to a boating accident that occurred in Miami, Florida, on Sunday, September 25.
So far, reports indicated that the boat was traveling at a high rate of speed and hit the jetty rocks at Government Cut off of Miami Beach, causing the 32-foot Sea Vee Center Console Fishing Boat to flip over. Three bodies were recovered by the United States Coast Guard when they responded to reports of debris that was seen floating. Baseball star Fernandez is believed to have died from the impact of the crash, not from drowning. In a news release this afternoon, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission stated that Fernandez was the owner of the boat that crashed, killing him and two of his friends, Emilio Macias and Eduardo Rivero. The operator of the boat at the time of the crash is still under investigation.
It has been reported that it is difficult to see this jetty at night, which is low to the water. There is no lighting to identify it. However, the authorities have stated that the boat has been seen frequently traveling past this area. Of course, at 3 AM, it is easy to lose your bearings, and at a high rate of speed there is even more of a chance of not observing the exact location of this jetty.
I am sure that the need for some type of lighting and markers identifying this area better will be discussed in light of this tragic death of these three men. Of course, blame will be put on the fact that the boat was being operated at too high of a rate of speed, especially at 3 AM in the morning. At this time, I do not know the qualifications of the operator of the boat, nor whether any alcohol or drugs were involved, although so far reports of stated alcohol and drugs were not involved.
Florida has been listed as having the largest number of boaters, with 915,713 registered vessels and the most boating fatalities and injuries in the country, according to reports published by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission in 2015. In 2015, Florida had 55 fatalities from boating accidents, which was a 25 percent decrease from the 73 fatalities in 2014. However, in 2015 there was 438 boating injuries, which had increased from 365 the year before.
Of the fatalities in 2015, 7 of them involved a collision with a fixed object like this particular case involving the death of Fernandez. The most common cause of boating fatalities has been listed under category called “other”. However, the 2nd most common cause of boating fatalities was alcohol use. Operating a boat at an excessive speed was listed as the 3rd cause of the fatalities, and maintaining an improper lookout/attention was the 4th cause of fatalities involving boating accidents.
Not only Miami, but all of the country is saddened by this tremendous loss. Fernandez risked everything defecting to the United States, coming here on the boat that itself almost resulted in a tragic death of his mother. During the voyage his mother went overboard and 15-year-old Fernandez jumped in the water, saving her life.
We will continue to keep a close eye on the pending investigation as to the causes of this tragedy, which hopefully will lead to increased knowledge as to the dangers, changes, and precautionary measures to avoid anything like this ever happening again.
Brett Rivkind, a Miami native, has been solely handling maritime personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1983. He has handled all types of recreational boating and water sport accident cases, as well as cruise ship accident and injury cases. He has spoken in Congress about cruise ship safety and security, served as president of the Admiralty Law Committee of the Florida bar, and has been frequently hired by other attorneys to handle their admiralty and maritime cases.
He is a safety advocate for those harmed at sea. He may be contacted for a free consultation regarding any type of injury on the water.