Vic­tim’s friend says he texted wor­ries about boat­ing

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Curt An­der­son

MI­AMI >> Mi­ami Mar­lins pitcher Jose Fer­nan­dez was a pa­tron at a Mi­ami River bar and restau­rant the same night he and two friends were killed in a boat crash, a spokes­woman for the es­tab­lish­ment con­firmed Tues­day.

A friend of one of the vic­tims said he warned him against the post-mid­night trip, and Mar­lins cen­ter fielder Mar­cell Ozuna said he and at least two other team­mates turned down in­vi­ta­tions to go and tried to dis­cour­age Fer­nan­dez from go­ing out.

Amer­i­can So­cial Bar & Kitchen spokes­woman Dana Rho­den said in an email that Fer­nan­dez was there be­fore the ac­ci­dent. The state­ment did not say whether Fer­nan­dez had been drink­ing or what time he left.

The bar is along the Mi­ami River in the city’s down­town sec­tion and al­lows boats to dock along­side.

Fer­nan­dez, 24, died when the boat he owned slammed at high speed into a rock jetty early Sun­day just off South Beach, in­ves­ti­ga­tors say. Emilio Je­sus Ma­cias, 27, and 25-year-old Ed­uardo Rivero also died.

A friend of Rivero’s, Will Ber­nal, said they texted each other shortly af­ter mid­night, be­fore the trio pushed off. Ber­nal posted the mes­sages on so­cial me­dia.

“Yo please be care­ful bro,” Ber­nal texted at 12:07 a.m. “I will bro,” Rivero said. “Try to keep him close to shore if you go out,” Ber­nal wrote back.

“Trust me,” Rivero wrote, “it’s not my time yet.”

Ber­nal then asked Rivero to turn on his “find iPhone” ap­pli­ca­tion and to “keep Jose cool.”

Ozuna, per­haps Fer­nan­dez’s clos­est friend on the team, said all of the play­ers knew Fer­nan­dez planned to go out on the boat that night.

“It was a bad de­ci­sion for him,” Ozuna said. “He heard ev­ery­body say, ‘No, go back to your house and take it easy.’ Then you wake up and see the news.”

Fer­nan­dez ap­par­ently had con­cerns he might be late to the ball­park for Sun­day’s 1:10 p.m. game, be­cause he asked Ozuna for a wake-up call.

“He said, ‘If I’m not here by 10, call me,”’ Ozuna said.

The Mar­lins an­nounced a pub­lic view­ing will be held Wed­nes­day at a Mi­ami church, pre­ceded by a funeral pro­ces­sion sched­uled to start at 2:16 p.m. out­side the team’s down­town ball­park. Fer­nan­dez wore No. 16 on his jer­sey.

A pri­vate funeral will be held Thurs­day for the Fer­nan­dez fam­ily and Mar­lins play­ers and per­son­nel.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Com­mis­sion is in­ves­ti­gat­ing. Spokesman Rob Klep­per said in an in­ter­view Tues­day that there’s no timetable, and “we will pro­vide a com­plete and thor­ough in­ves­tiga­tive re­port.”

The 32-foot boat named “Kaught Look­ing” — the “K” is back­ward, sig­ni­fy­ing a strike­out when the bat­ter does not swing — will be thor­oughly checked for clues as to why the ac­ci­dent oc­curred, au­thor­i­ties said. Mi­ami-Dade County pros­e­cu­tors have ob­tained search war­rants for wildlife com­mis­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tors seek­ing ac­cess to the ves­sel, said Ed Grif­fith, a spokesman for the state at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

KATHY WIL­LENS — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Yan­kees left fielder Brett Gard­ner (11), cen­ter fielder Ja­coby Ells­bury (22), and right fielder Aaron Hicks (31) ob­serve a mo­ment of si­lence for Mar­lins pitcher Jose Fer­nan­dez, who died in a boat­ing ac­ci­dent early Sun­day, be­fore the Yan­kees’ game against the Red Sox in New York, Tues­day.

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