MIAMI — Jose Fernandez, the ace right-hander for the Miami Marlins who escaped Cuba to become one of baseball’s brightest stars, was killed in boating accident early Sunday morning. Fernandez was 24.
The Marlins announced Fernandez’s death, and the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that Fernandez was one of three people killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach.
In the statement, the Marlins say they are “devastated by the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.”
Chief Petty Officer Nyxolyno Cangemi told The Associated Press that a Coast Guard patrol boat spotted an overturned boat at 3:30 a.m. on a jetty near Government Cut. The bodies were discovered a short time later.
Because the boat was on a jetty, the Coast Guard notified Miami-Dade police, which turned the investigation over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Fernandez was on a 32-foot vessel that had a “severe impact” with a jetty, said Lorenzo Veloz of the Fish Commission.
A news conference was planned for later Sunday morning.
Fernandez was a two-time All-Star who went 38-17 in his four seasons with the Marlins, winning the NL’s Rookie of the Year award in 2013. The native of Santa Clara, Cuba became a U.S. citizen last year.
He tried to defect from Cuba at least three times—landing in jail after one of those unsuccessful tries—before eventually getting to the U.S. and going to high school in Tampa, Florida. The Marlins drafted him in 2011 and Fernandez was in the majors two years later.
The Marlins’ game Sunday at home against the Atlanta Braves has been cancelled.