MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Harsh words were spoken in court today against South Florida Radio Host DJ Laz, whose real name is Lazaro Mendez.READ MORE: Appeals Court Says Florida Tech Law Violates First Amendment
The family of Ernesto Hernandez, the young man killed while trying to push Laz’s boat off a Nixon Beach sandbar last year, had hoped to address Mendez in court during this hearing over his careless boating citation in the case.
Mendez chose not to appear.
“He’s a coward. And he should have been here today! And he should’ve taken everyone’s lives into consideration when he was on that boat,” Hernandez’ sister Mildred Hernandez said through tears.
Mendez’ attorney, Mycki Ratzan, said the family’s civil lawyers orchestrated a media circus and he did not want to be at the center of it.
“Him being here wasn’t going to make them feel any better. Him being here was going to make this all worse,” she told CBS4’s Natalia Zea.
Through his lawyer, Mendez pleaded no contest to careless boating but he would not admit guilt for the incident, in part due to the family’s pending civil lawsuit.
“It’s a tragic accident, that’s what it was. An accident,” said Ratzan.
Mendez expressed concern about the accident during his videotaped deposition but insisted he was not at fault.Site Of Surfside Condo Collapse To Be Sold To Dubai Developer
“Did I see everyone back away, and would common sense tell you to back away from on motors? Yes.”
Prosecutors argued he did not use care when revving his powerful boat engines while several people pushed his boat. Judge William Altfield agreed.
“Although this is his first offense, I do believe in this situation an adjudication is warranted,” said Altfield.
Hernandez’ cousin Rafael Falero reacted to the ruling.
“We are pleased that he was found guilty. It does not solve everything, but at least a little bit of peace of mind.”
In addition to a $500 fee and a $1,000 donation to restore Mashta Flats, where the accident happened, Mendez must complete 120 hours of community service and take a boating safety course before he can operate a boat again.
Ratzan says Mendez is willing to meet with the victim’s family privately and told the family directly.
That invitation was shot down.
Mildred Hernandez said, “He had the opportunity if he wanted to talk to us, to be here today, and he didn’t.”MORE NEWS: Report: Three Americans Died Of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning At Bahamas Resort
The boating infraction case is now closed but the family’s civil lawsuit against Voli Vodka continues. Mendez is included in that lawsuit in name only, as he’s already settled with the family.