U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is seeking a safety probe into the rock jetty where a boat crash claimed the lives of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and two friends early Sunday morning.
Rubio, a Florida Republican, sent a letter Wednesday to the Coast Guard and Army Corps of Engineers, asking for a review of the century-old jetty and whether it poses a chronic danger to boaters.
The jetty, which extends out from Miami's port, is difficult to see at night, especially at high tide, Rubio said, according to the Associated Press.
"While our hearts are heavy with grief for the numerous lives lost every year on the water, we can do more to save others," Rubio wrote. "As a boater myself, I have experienced firsthand the challenges this particular jetty can present to others trying to navigate around it.”
Shortly after the 32-foot SeaVee center console owned by the 24-year-old Fernandez crashed early Sunday, the Coast Guard said a lighted buoy that marks the channel opening at the end of the jetty was working properly.
The jetty does not have lights, but officials say routine reviews have concluded that the existing navigational aids are adequate for safety.
Initial reports that the boat belonged to a friend wound up being false, but on Monday the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission amended the report to say the boat — called Kaught Looking — was registered to Fernandez, according to the Miami Herald.
Officer Lorenzo Veloz said he had seen the boat several times and that Fernández was never behind the wheel. But investigators confirmed Monday that Kaught Looking — spelled with a backward K, the symbol for a strikeout when the batter does not swing at the third strike — was indeed the pitcher’s.
The FWC is investigating the cause of the crash, but officials initially suspected that speed was a factor.
In addition to Fernandez, Emilio Jesus Macias, 27, and 25-year-old Eduardo Rivero also died in the crash.
Investigators have said no evidence of alcohol or drug use was found at the scene, but medical examiner toxicology reports are pending. A Miami River bar and restaurant has confirmed that Fernandez was there before the crash, but it is unclear whether he was drinking.
Will Bernal, a friend of Rivero’s, said on Instagram that the pitcher was upset about something when the three boarded his boat. In an interview with the Miami Herald, Bernal, a Miami socialite, said he believes Fernández might have been stressed after getting into an argument with his girlfriend.
Bernal said he spent Saturday night text-messaging with Rivero, who tried to get him to come along on the boat. Worried about boating at night, Bernal declined.
“I was trying everything in my power to try to convince him to not go out on the boat, and José, too,” Bernal told the Herald.
Bernal posted what he said was an exchange with Rivero.
“Try to keep him close to shore if you go out,” Bernal texted.
“Trust me it’s not my time yet,” Rivero responded.
“I know but try to keep José cool, tell him what I said,” Bernal wrote back.
Rivero then posted a picture of his phone’s map application, showing an area of the Miami River.
Bernal said the texts began after midnight. He said Rivero had only met Fernandez within the past few months and had actually left a birthday party late Saturday night to hang out with the Marlins superstar, “who was really stressed out.”
Fernandez’s funeral was on Wednesday. His mother and grandmother leaned into his casket to give it a kiss, the Herald reported in a separate story.
Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, who attended the blessing, said the pitcher's death has crushed the city because he represented the best of Cuban exiles.
“My generation adopted him as a son,” said Regalado, who was born in Cuba.