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Jose Fernandez autopsy reveals drug use

Miami Herald

Miami Herald

An autopsy has revealed that Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine at the time of his death, the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner’s office announced Saturday, Oct. 29. Fernandez and two friends were killed in a boating accident off Miami Beach on in the early hours of Sept. 25.

Fernandez, 24, suffered blunt-force injuries to the head and torso, as well as skull and jaw fractures when his boat hit a jetty near Miami Beach. The Medical Examiner’s office listed the cause of death as “boat crash” while also noting that Fernandez was legally drunk with a blood-alcohol concentration of .147.

Coast Guard personnel on patrol noticed the boat upside down on the north end of a rocky jetty near South Pointe Beach on Government Cut around 3:15 a.m. The bodies of Fernandez and two friends, Emilio Jesus Macias and Eduardo Rivero, were discovered later that morning.

Authorities have not determined who was piloting the boat, which Fernandez owned, at the time of the crash. Autopsies revealed that Macias and Rivero both had levels of alcohol below the legal limit in Florida, which is .08. However, Rivero also had traces of cocaine in his system. Authorities also are conducting a homicide investigation.

The death of Fernandez, renowned as one of the game’s most prominent rising stars, shook the baseball world, and these developments have only complicated matters more. While it does have a small number of accepted medical uses, cocaine is typically used recreationally and is illegal in most of its forms. Cocaine is the most frequently used illegal drug globally, second only to cannabis. The drug has a place on Major League Baseball’s list of banned substances as part of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Fernandez’s career was off to a promising start. After risking his life during his defection from Cuba in 2007 — an endeavor which he failed three times before finally making it to Mexico on the fourth — Fernandez’s dream was realized when the Marlins selected him 14th overall in the 2011 MLB draft. Fernandez reached the Majors quickly, making the Marlins’ roster out of spring training in 2013. Many believed he received the promotion prematurely, as he had never thrown a pitch beyond the Class A-Advanced level.

Fernandez silenced those critics, however, dominating the National League to the tune of a 2.19 ERA over 172 2/3 innings of work en route to receiving 2013 NL Rookie of the Year honors. Although he missed large portions of the 2014 and 2015 seasons due to Tommy John surgery, Fernandez still made the All-Star team twice in his four-year career. He finished his Marlins tenure with a 38-17 record overall and a 2.58 ERA across 471 1/3 innings. He struck out 589 batters over that span, good for an 11.2 K/9. Fernandez’s dominant 2016 season (16-8, 2.86 ERA) may have put him in contention for the NL Cy Young Award.

Shortly after his death, the Marlins honored Fernandez by retiring his number, 16. His number was the first to be retired in Marlins history.

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