Remembering Jose Fernandez and Thinking About Boating Safety

 In Maritime Law

There are no words to express the level of tragedy that is the loss of Marlins baseball player, Jose Fernandez.  That may seem like a lot of grief from a guy that doesn’t follow baseball in a significant fashion.  But Jose Fernandez was the living representation of hope and struggle and the ability to make it big in America.  It is the rule in this amazing country that that when you have talent and you work hard, your struggles will be rewarded.  Jose truly struggled to get to America.  He was caught trying to leave Cuba on 3 occasions. He was imprisoned at the age of 15 to punish his desire to come to America.  He finally made it off the communist island and getting to America through Mexico. For most of my life I have the heard stories of Cubans making it to America, working hard in America and making good on their lives in America.

 Jose Fernandez had made it.  He had landed in America.  His intensity and hard work got him a job as a professional pitcher with the Marlins.  There are less than 400 souls on Earth who have the talent to pitch in the Majors.  Jose was not only one of them, he was one of the best.  David Price, the Boston Red Sox pitcher said Jose was “Hands down one of my favorite guys to watch pitch!  He brought intensity and passion…”  He certainly showed up in his last game.  Jose pitched 8 strong innings.  He had 8 perfect shut-out innings and struck out 12 while almost single handedly beating the Washington Nationals 1 – 0.

Jose had it all.  He was rich beyond the imagination of those he left behind in Cuba.  He was gifted and playing a game he loved.  He was living in a town that loved him and playing for a team with a future.  Jose was young and strong and had an arm that could have kept him in baseball for the next 15 years.  He also had a daughter only a few short weeks from her birth.  He simply had it all.

Jose is not the only baseball player to lose his life to a Florida boating accident.  Cleveland had two great players, Tim Crews, and the submarine pitcher Steve Olin (I remember, being an Ohio boy, that Cleveland use to pay Yellow Submarine for him when he came out), both killed in a boat wreck in 1993 on Little Lake Nellie in Clermont, Florida.  Bob Ojeda was also on the boat, but was only hurt and not killed.  Both of these guys were young men in the prime of their careers.  I can remember when Olin lost his life because we are exactly 1 year apart in age, almost to the day, and I remember how tragic and wasteful it felt way back then.

 But, this is not a new phenomenon.  Both boating and driving are extremely dangerous. Young men (and women) MUST be taught to recognize the exceptional danger they are in while out on the water.  Looking at facts and the photos of the boat Jose Fernandez was riding in, turned upside-down on a rock Jetty, being found at 3:00 am – The situation  screams to my prosecutor and civil lawyer side “Irresponsible” / “Negligent” / “Wrong” / “Wasteful” / “Criminal”!  Sadly, everyone died from trauma in this accident.  There is no one to tell the story of what happened.  The Marine Patrol have talented and bright accident reconstruction experts. They will piece together the accident facts.  We will find out how much alcohol the young men had consumed. We will determine if drugs were involved.  We will know if speed in the dark significantly contributed to the wreck. They will even know if the captain had forced his passengers to wear life vests (they were not) if the softening of the impact could have saved Jose’s life.

 Unfortunately we can’t go back in time.  We can’t change the past.  As an injury attorney who concentrates in boat accidents and cruise accidents, and even crew injury cases (called Jones Act claims) we see this type of terrible injury too often.  Money and Justice are poor substitutes for health and happiness, but that is all the law allows us to ask for to help those  people injured by another’s negligence.

 If you or a loved one are ever hurt due to the actions of another please call us for a free consultation.  We only take cases on a contingency basis, which means, we don’t get paid unless we make money for you. 

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