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Cuban Defector Turned US Baseball Star Dies In Boat Crash

jose-fernandezJosé Fernández, one of professional baseball’s rising young stars, was almost lost at sea while defecting from his native Cuba nine years ago. On Sunday, the ocean finally claimed him.

The 24-year-old Miami Marlins pitcher died along with two companions in a boating accident near Miami.

Officials say the 10-metre boat was traveling at full speed early yesterday morning when it crashed into a rock jetty off Miami Beach, killing all three on board.

Authorities who probed the wreckage reportedly found no evidence of illegal drugs or alcohol at the scene. Toxicology tests are set to be conducted in Miami.

The boat’s owner and likely operator, a friend of Fernández, was thought to be familiar with the coastal area, according to a local conservation official.

“We just can’t say why this happened,” the official added.

News of the deaths cast a pall over Major League games, with the Marlins immediately cancelling their scheduled Sunday home game against Atlanta.

A charismatic rookie in 2013, Fernández’ backstory as a Cuban refugee captivated countless fans in Florida and beyond.

A native of Santa Clara, Cuba, he was unsuccessful in his first three attempts to defect, and spent several months in detention while awaiting his forced return to Cuba. On his fourth try, at age 15, he and his mother reached Mexico, after a perilous voyage in which he saved his mother from drowning in the Gulf of Mexico.

Mother and son were later reunited in Tampa, Florida with Fernandez’ father, who had earlier escaped his communist homeland.

Yesterday, Hall of Famer Tony Perez, an executive with the Marlins organization, said “all I can do is scream in disbelief. Jose won the love of all. I feel as if I have lost a son.” Team owners said they were “devastated by the tragic loss of Jose.”

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred described Fernández”as one of our game’s great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family…and all the people he touched in his life.”

This season, Fernández was among the Major League’s pitching leaders with a record of 16-8, 253 strikeouts and an earned run average of 2.86.

 

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Comment by Dana Manno on September 30, 2016 at 3:41pm
This reminds me of Elian Gonzales. One of the reasons his Dad insisted on him returning to Cuba, is that he thought that the U.S. was too dangerous. Sometimes the Most High is trying to protect you, but you don't get the message. Fernandez went above and beyond to get to the U.S., even though he met obstacle after obstacle. God was trying to protect him. In the end, he sold his soul and reaped the reward.
Comment by Dana Manno on September 30, 2016 at 3:41pm
This reminds me of Elian Gonzales. One of the reasons his Dad insisted on him returning to Cuba, is that he thought that the U.S. was too dangerous. Sometimes the Most High is trying to protect you, but you don't get the message. Fernandez went above and beyond to get to the U.S., even though he met obstacle after obstacle. God was trying to protect him. In the end, he sold his soul and reaped the reward.
Comment by Alicia Johnson on September 26, 2016 at 6:43pm
I feel so bad for his family. His mom will never get over that let alone his grandma. Thank God she got to see him before this happened.

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