Jose Fernandez, a rising star in the United States' Major League Baseball National League, was found to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol when his boat crashed off the coast of Miami, killing three people. The 24-year-old and two of his friends died as a result of blunt head and body injuries when their boat hit a rocky jetty at speed.
Miami Marlins' player Fernandez had a blood alcohol level of 0.14, which is well over Florida's legal driving limit of 0.08, at the time of the crash on 25 September. Toxicology reports published by the local medical examiner's office also found cocaine in his system. Though the other crash victims, Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25, both had alcohol levels below the limit at 0.04 and 0.06 respectively, Rivero's body also tested positive for cocaine.
The toxicology reports were released following a lawsuit by a local news outlet, the Miami Herald, who sued the medical examiner's office for the records. The reports, which were completed several weeks ago, were released at the behest of Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Investigators had found evidence that the boat had been speeding at the time of the crash, although it was not known who had been piloting it. However, local news sources report that the Fernandez family's legal representation argued that evidence suggested that Fernandez was not driving the vehicle.
According to Ralph Fernandez, a family friend, a telephone call between Fernandez and an unnamed person at the time of the crash indicates he could not have been driving. It is alleged that the person with whom Fernandez was speaking could hear him giving instructions to the pilot before hearing "a loud noise, and the communication stopped".
Though a search warrant released this week said that the bodies of the three men had a "strong odour of alcohol" when recovered, and a bar receipt was recovered from the scene of the crash, the toxicology report findings of cocaine use were described by as "totally out of character" by the Fernandez family's lawyer.
Fernández was drafted by Major League Baseball team the Miami Marlins in 2011. Widely regarded as an upcoming star of the game, he was a regular on the club's starting rotation after coming back from elbow surgery in the 2015 season.
Just five days before his crash, Cuban-born Fernández, who received US citizenship in 2015, shared a photo of his pregnant girlfriend, Maria Arias, on Instagram. It was captioned: "I'm so glad you came into my life. I'm ready for where this journey is gonna take us together. #familyfirst."