Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez had cocaine in his system and was legally drunk when he was killed in a boating accident last month, according to autopsy and toxicology reports obtained by ESPN on Saturday.
A toxicology report from the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department showed that cocaine and multiple other substances were detected in Fernandez’s blood. Fernandez, 24, had a blood alcohol content of .147, nearly twice the legal limit, when his boat crashed into a Miami Beach jetty Sept. 25.
Two of Fernandez’s friends, Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and Eduardo Rivero, 25, were also killed in the crash. Their toxicology reports show that neither was past the blood alcohol legal limit, though cocaine was found in Rivero’s blood.
Dr. Kenneth Hutchins, associate medical examiner, wrote in the report that each man had suffered blunt-force injuries to his head and body.
It is unknown who was driving the boat at the time of the crash.
Ralph Fernandez, the family’s attorney and of no relation to the pitcher, told The Miami Herald that investigators have strong evidence that Fernandez was not piloting the boat. He called the cocaine use out of character for the pitcher.
“That leads me to think, could this be an isolated incident? Yes. Could this have been involuntary? Yes. Why do you think there’s still a criminal investigation pending?” the attorney said.
Authorities have interviewed a “highly reliable” witness who said he was on the phone with Fernandez just before the crash and heard the pitcher giving another person directions about where to steer the boat, he said.
“If you tell me that he’d been drinking, I’d say, ‘So?'” Ralph Fernandez said. “He wasn’t driving, and he was very careful about that.”
Players with Major League Baseball contracts have been tested for performance-enhancing substances since 2004, and violations are announced publicly, but there is no random testing for drugs such as cocaine, and players generally aren’t suspended for abusing those drugs unless they fail to comply with a treatment program or are convicted for drug use, possession, sale or distribution.