Jose Fernandez Was Piloting Boat at Time of Fatal Crash, Per Investigators

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Starting pitcher Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians during an interleague game at Progressive Field on September 3, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission investigation into the fatal boat crash involving Miami Marlins star Jose Fernandez and two friends concluded the MLB starting pitcher was piloting the boat at the time of the accident.

Mike Clary of the Sun Sentinel passed along the commission's findings Thursday after a six-month probe into the September incident.

"Fernandez operated the [vessel] with his normal faculties impaired, in a reckless manner, in the darkness of night, in an area with known navigational hazards such as the rock jetties and channel markers," the report noted.

The report stated the watercraft was traveling in excess of 65 miles an hour when it struck a rock jetty near Miami Beach, Florida, on Sept. 25, killing all three people on board.

A toxicology report obtained by ESPN in October showed Fernandez had cocaine in his system and a blood alcohol content of .147 following the crash. The toxicology results also showed "multiple other substances" in his blood at the time.

It's unclear what evidence led investigators to conclude Fernandez was piloting the boat.

Ralph Fernandez, the family's attorney of no direct relation, told Donna Rapado of CBS Miami in October a witness came forward to suggest the pitcher was not driving at the time.

"He said that during that brief conversation that Jose was obviously not driving the boat because he was giving suggestions and/or directions to whoever was driving and to stay off shore a bit and also something about the red or green lights," Ralph Fernandez said.

The lawyers for the other individuals killed in the crash, Jesus Macias and Eduardo Rivero, released a joint statement to the Sun Sentinel following the release of the commission's report Thursday:

We want to emphasize that this accident was a tragedy for all concerned. Though fault has been determined officially, the families of Emilio and Eduardo are not vindictive and simply hope that an amicable settlement of the lawsuit can be reached between the parties as swiftly as possible so as not to prolong the final closure for the many people who have been impacted.

The Rivero and Macias families have also lost their sons in the prime of their lives. Whatever happens, there are no winners in this matter, simply losses—those of the lives of three fine young men.

David Ovalle and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald previously reported relatives of both Macias and Rivero have filed wrongful death lawsuits against the Fernandez estate in Miami-Dade circuit court on the grounds he "owed his passengers a reasonable degree of care."

Meanwhile, the report's release comes one day after TMZ Sports noted a judge ruled control of the estate, which is valued between $2-3 million, will be split between the Cuba native's mother and girlfriend following the birth of his child on Feb. 24.