Miami Marlins star pitcher Jose Fernandez killed in boating accident
(CNN)Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández, who defected from Cuba at 15 and went on to become one of baseball's brightest stars, was killed early Sunday in a boating accident, Florida authorities said.
Fernández, who was 24, and two other men were found dead after their boat was discovered at the entrance of Miami Harbor, said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesman Lorenzo Veloz.Coast Guard personnel on patrol noticed the vessel upside down on the north end of a rocky jetty shortly after 3:15 a.m., Veloz said at a news conference.
Divers recovered two bodies under the boat, and a third victim was found on the rocks. The names of the two other victims -- also in their 20s -- are being withheld until relatives are notified. The men were Fernandez's friends, Veloz said.
More than a ball player
Veloz said Fernández's death was a loss to Miami, to baseball and to anyone who ever met him.
"He was pillar to our community. He was involved in everything that he could be to give back," Veloz said. "I had the experience of talking to him several times -- down-to-earth, great person ... I'm sorry I'm getting goosebumps right now. It's really hitting home and it's horrible."
Based on impact evidence and the severity of damage, officials concluded the boat -- a 32-foot SeaVee center console model -- hit the rocks at full speed, Veloz said.
Top speed on the boat would be between 50 mph and 65 mph, depending on the engines with which it was equipped, according to SeeVee's website.
Fernández was a passenger on the boat, and was not the owner, Veloz said.
"The boat is a total loss right now from what we can see," Veloz said. "It's horrible, it's bad, it's bad."
Drugs and alcohol did not appear to be factors in the accident, he said, but he added that investigators had been been unable to get under the overturned wreckage. Autopsies have not been conducted. None of the three victims was wearing a life vest, he said.
Emotional news conference
"The magnanimity of his personality transcended culture, religion and race, I mean it just did," Marlins President David Samson said at a news conference where he was flanked by the team and other officials. Several people appeared visibly shaken.
"Jose is a member of this family for all time," Samson said. "His story is representative of a story of hope, and of love and of faith, and no one will ever let that story die."
The Marlins' game against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday was canceled, Samson said.
"When you watch kids playing Little League... that's the joy that Jose played with -- and the passion he felt about playing," said Marlins Manager Don Mattingly, stopping midsentence to wipe away tears. He appeared too emotionally shaken to continue.
People we've lost in 2016
Fernández was born in Santa Clara, Cuba, and defected to the United States in 2008.
Drafted by the Marlins in 2011, he went on to become the franchise's star pitcher, named National League Rookie of the Year 2013 and a two-time All-Star.
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