Toxicology reports reveal cocaine, alcohol in Jose Fernandez’ system at time of boat crash
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. - Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez had cocaine and alcohol in his system when his boat crashed into a Miami Beach jetty, according to toxicology reports released Saturday.
It’s not clear whether Fernandez was driving when the boat crashed Sept. 25, killing the 24-year-old baseball star and two of his friends. But Fernandez had a blood-alcohol content level of 0.147, well above Florida’s legal limit of 0.08, according to autopsy reports released by the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Associate Medical Examiner Kenneth Hutchins listed the cause of death as “boat crash” for Fernandez, 27-year-old Emilio Jesus Macias and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero.
Each man had suffered blunt force injuries to his head and body, Hutchins wrote.
Cocaine use would be out of character for Fernandez, and the toxicology reports raise more questions than they answer about what happened that night, said the Fernandez family’s Tampa-based attorney and longtime friend, Ralph E. Fernandez.
“That leads me to think, could this be an isolated incident? Yes. Could this have been involuntary? Yes. Why do you think there’s still a criminal investigation pending?” said the attorney, who isn’t related to the pitcher.
Authorities have interviewed a “highly reliable” witness who said he was on the phone with Fernandez just before the crash and heard the pitcher giving another person directions about where to steer the boat, he said.
“If you tell me that he’d been drinking, I’d say, ‘So?’ He wasn’t driving - and he was very careful about that,” Ralph Fernandez said.
Players with MLB contracts have been tested for performance-enhancing substances since 2004 and violations are announced publicly, but there is no random testing for drugs such as cocaine and players generally aren’t suspended for abusing those drugs unless they fail to comply with a treatment program or are convicted for drug use, possession, sale or distribution.
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Fernandez’s autopsy report was “not even official” and declined further comment before Game 4 of the World Series.
Toxicology reports showed both Macias and Rivero also had alcohol levels below the state’s legal limit, while Rivero also had cocaine in his system.
Chris Royer, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer representing family members of Macias and Rivero, told the Sun Sentinel that his clients had been told about the findings and they would make a statement having taken some time to discuss the reports.
Royer did not immediately respond to messages left Saturday by the Associated Press.