Drug residue found aboard boat in fatal Florida accident

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A new report about a fatal boat accident revealed that drugs and alcohol were on board the vessel allegedly steered by South Florida radio personality Lazaro Mendez, better known as DJ Laz.

In May of 2014, 23-year-old Ernesto Hernandez was killed by the 40-foot boat's spinning propellers on Nixon Island.

Officials said Hernandez was attempting to push the boat after it became stuck on a sandbar. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Hernandez was impaired, with a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, when he tried to push the boat out of the Nixon Beach sand with several others.

Mendez was said to be at the helm of the boat when Hernandez was struck.

On Wednesday the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission released a report that said cocaine residue was found on ripped bills and multiple liquor bottles that were on board the vessel, according to WSVN 7 News.

Audio also was released as officials were questioning Mendez.

"Criminal investigation regarding boating accident and fatality, which occurred at Nixon Beach, and we'll be taking a statement from Lazaro Mendez."

Mendez complied and barely spoke to investigators. "With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to us now?"

"No," replied Mendez.

"You'll wait for your attorney?" asked an investigator.

"Yes, sir."

Mendez was cited for careless driving resulting in a death.

7News reached out to Mendez's attorney, Mycki Ratzman, who said she was out of town. Mendez has previously apologized, but has yet to comment after the recent findings.

Earlier this year Maricel Valdez, Hernandez's mother, spoke out. "What I need is my son, and I don't have him anymore. Because I'm already 48 years old, I can't be having no baby anymore," she said as she tried to hold back tears.

"Because one thing is just an accident but another thing, when something as devastating as this happens, and to make matters worse, it involves alcohol and drugs," said the family's attorney, George Silva. "It's just unimaginable."

No criminal charges are being filed against Mendez or anyone else because, FWC spokesman Jorge Pino said, there is "no way to prove drug residue belonged to him" and "no way of proving who was in possession of the bills."

The family is filing a lawsuit against Mendez, and according to Silva, Mendez should have, at the very least, been tested for being impaired at the scene, which he was not.


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