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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Miami Marlins pitching ace Jose Fernandez bought his mother a big, gated home off Bird Road in Southwest Miami-Dade.
The home is now in foreclosure. Fernandez’ child (by a girlfriend) is receiving no benefits from anyone. Fernandez’ estate has been in limbo since a September 2016 boating accident that killed Fernandez and two friends.
An attorney for the late rising star’s estate blames a flawed investigation into the boating accident, that he says has destroyed Fernandez’ family and ruined his legacy.
“I think there was an evolution in this case from a mistake to a cover up,” said attorney Ralph Fernandez (no relation) who is representing the late ball player’s estate against the lawsuits brought by the other victim’s families.
Investigators for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) concluded Fernandez was drunk, high on cocaine and racing along at 65 miles per hour when he crashed his 32 foot speed boat into the rocks at the mouth of Miami’s Government Cut inlet, killing himself and two friends, Emilio Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25.
The families of both men are suing Fernandez’ estate for $2 million each.
“Jose Fernandez gave his heart out for this town and its people. I think somebody should be interested in the truth,” said Fernandez.
Standing with Fernandez’ mother in the home that’s in foreclosure Wednesday, the attorney said the FWC’s conclusion that Fernandez was at the wheel of the boat is terribly flawed.
“That report is not worth the paper that it’s printed on. It’s a disgrace to law enforcement,” the attorney said.
“I don’t have the words to tell you it’s been all lies,” said Fernandez’ mother Maritza. “The first to lie were the investigators.”
The FWC found that only Fernandez’ fingerprints were on the steering wheel of the boat.
DNA, the agency said, showed pieces of the pitcher’s teeth and his blood on the center console of the boat where the driver would have been thrown, and bruises on his thighs consistent with his being thrown into the console and through the Plexiglas windshield.
Fernandez’s lawyer says their findings are false. “The medical examiner, who’s a stand up fellow, he denied ever getting the call about the teeth. He doesn’t even know what they’re talking about when they suggested he had input into that,” said Fernandez.
The FWC report concludes injuries sustained by the other two victims clearly show neither could have been at the wheel of the vessel, that one was in the rear, the other standing on the right side of the boat, in front of the console.
But a 168 page motion filed in response to the lawsuits brought by the other victims cites depositions given by experts, including the medical examiner, that the attorney Fernandez claims dramatically dispute the FWC’s findings.
“You’ll see quote after quote, from their own (FWC) sources, one manifestly contradicting the other,” the attorney said.
“The divers’ observation, the boat being upside down under water. Upside down under water when the divers found it, with body parts floating that created a scene that would forever bar any evidentiary connection to anything,” said Fernandez.
Prior to the FWC’s report, there was talk of a statue being erected at Marlins Park in Fernandez’ honor, streets being named for him, plaques in his memory at numerous locations in the city. All of that has fallen by the wayside after the FWC found he was responsible for a drunken, drugged crash that killed him and two pals.
The FWC declined to comment Wednesday, a spokesperson saying its voluminous investigative report speaks for itself. Attorneys representing the two other men who died have also declined to comment.
Attorney Ralph Fernandez’ motion asks the judge to order an independent agency to investigate the crash, and what he says are grievous flaws in the FWC’s investigation.