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Marlins Pitcher Jose Fernandez Killed in Boat Crash

Tragically, the young ace pitcher for the Marlins died early Sunday morning. Fernandez and two other friends were killed when their boat crashed into the Government Cut jetty in Miami. Fernandez was 24.

The boat was reportedly run by a fishing team that called themselves “J’s Crew”. FWC was quoted as saying they frequently saw the boat on the water. Anyone going in and out of this area by water knows this jetty well. Given the experience of the boat owner, it’s hard to imagine he didn’t know the waters better than most.

The Danger of an Unlit Rock Jetty

Just as in Miami, we have seen this scenario in Tampa Bay. An unlit rock jetty is nearly invisible at night. In 1998 two men were killed when they hit the unlit jetty outside Clearwater. In 2006 Clearwater Beach developer Roland Rogers survived hitting the same jetty. Clearwater officials unanimously recommended installing lights on the entire jetty. Nothing happened for years, until tragedy struck again.

In 2009 a young woman lost her life when the vessel she was in struck an unlit jetty in St. Petersburg. Weeks later, in bad weather, another boater was seriously injured hitting the same jetty. She sued the City. The claim against the city was dismissed. The city eventually removed the jetty in 2010.

These tragedies highlight the need for caution when operating a boat a night. We may never know whether a light at Government Cut would have prevented this most recent tragedy. Government Cut is a very busy shipping lane. The channel is marked and lit according to Coast Guard and international regulations. These regulations allow boaters from all around the world to safely navigate the channel. Some say additional lights would make it harder to see the lit navigational buoys.

Tips on How to Put Safety First!

Regardless of a boater’s experience, boating at night requires 100% concentration together with a review of the charts and the local notices to mariners put out by the United States Coast Guard. It is updated weekly to reflect new channel markers, obstructions, and other hazards to boaters. Additionally, boats equipped with radar are required to use it, both day and night. Boaters that don’t follow the law to the “t” and crash can be sued. If alcohol is involved the driver may face serious criminal charges and the possibility of punitive damages in civil court.

Be safe out there. If you’re anything less than 100% certain of what is in the water in front of your boat, slow down. Idle speed impacts rarely result in serious injury or death. Our thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost loved ones to unnecessary tragedies.