Beloved Miami Marlins phenom Jose Fernandez passed away tragically in the early morning of September 25 in the waters off Miami Beach when the boat he and two of his friends were in crashed into a jetty. His two friends, Emilio Macias and Eduardo Rivero, were also killed. Miami-Dade County’s Coroner’s office released the results of Fernandez’ autopsy on Saturday, and the results are even more saddening.
Fernandez was highly intoxicated as his Blood Alcohol Concentration was .147 and he had cocaine in his system. The Fernandez family’s attorney stated to ESPN that, though Fernandez owned the boat, it is not believed that he was the driver.
This revelation makes the occurrence all the more heartbreaking. It was a perfect storm of a tragedy to start. Fernandez was capping off the best season of his young career and was in the running for the Cy Young Award. But, his tremendous ability in the game was only part of the reason he was so popular. Fernandez had an infectious enthusiasm for both the game and life that endeared him to all of baseball, not just Marlins fans. In the 3 and half short seasons he played, Fernandez was hardly ever seen without a smile on his face, something that made him popular even with opponents. It was clear every day that the kid from Cuba loved what he had and was grateful for it.
When the MLB announced Fernandez’ death later that Sunday morning, the entire League was taken aback and fans and players alike expressed their grief. Though the fact that Fernandez was on drugs angered and saddened many people, it only makes the accident more saddening and Fernandez all the more human.
Drug usage was out of character for Fernandez. He never failed a test in the MLB and his lawyer stated that it was unlike the 24-year-old to do so. He and his friends made a mistake and, regrettably, it cost the trio their lives. As much as we the fans love to place our favorite players like Fernandez on pedestals and act like they are flawless, we all know deep down that they aren’t. Fernandez’ death isn’t different from the thousands over other deaths that occur in the US each year as a result of DWI. The only difference is he was a celebrity.
The autopsy report should not erase anyone’s sympathy for what happened. If anything, it should increase it. Fernandez was human just like the rest of us, and he shouldn’t be vilified for that. Rest in Peace, no. 16.