26/09/2016 12:09 AM AEST | Updated 26/09/2016 9:14 AM AEST

Miami Marlins Pitcher Jose Fernandez Killed In Horrific Boating Accident

Rich Schultz via Getty Images
Pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, of the Miami Marlins was reportedly killed in a boating crash on Sunday. 
Rich Schultz via Getty Images
Pitcher Jose Fernandez, 24, of the Miami Marlins was reportedly killed in a boating crash on Sunday. 

Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating crash early Sunday morning in south Florida, the Miami Herald reports. 

In a statement confirming Fernandez’s death, the Major League Baseball team also announced it has canceled Sunday’s home game against the Atlanta Braves.

“The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández,” the statement read. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time.”

Miami Dade Fire Rescue
Divers found three bodies at the scene of Sunday morning's crash. Speed is believed to have been a factor.

The 24-year-old pitcher was boating with two friends off Miami Beach when their 32-foot boat hit rocks and capsized, NBC Miami reported.

Divers recovered three bodies at the scene following a 3:40 a.m. call, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said in a release.

Speed appears to have been a factor. There was no evidence of alcohol or illegal substances found, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission told the station.

Miami Dade Fire Rescue
The crash was reported to authorities around 3:40 a.m. Sunday.

Fernandez was drafted by the Marlins in 2011, and played his first MLB game in 2013. 

He went on to became the youngest Cuban-born player to make an All-Star debut, the Herald reported at the time. He won the National League Rookie of the Month Award in both July and August 2013, as well as the Rookie of the Year Award.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly broke down in tears at a press conference Sunday afternoon as he reflected on Fernandez’s passion for baseball.

““The way he played, there’s just joy with him when he played,” he said. “And when he pitched, and I think that’s what the guys will say too. As mad as he would make you with some of the stuff he would do, you just see that little kid that you see when you watch kids play Little League or something like that. That’s the joy that Jose played with and the passion he felt about playing, that’s what I think about.”

Fernandez successfully defected to the U.S. with his mother when he was 15. He had tried to do so three times previously, and was jailed each time for treason, CBS Sports reported. During their fourth and final attempt to leave Cuba, his mother fell overboard in the Gulf of Mexico. Fernandez, initially not knowing who had fallen, jumped in the water to save her, he recalled in a 2013 interview.

Just before he received his many athletic honors, the Marlins surprised Fernandez by flying his grandmother to the U.S. from Cuba. The emotional reunion, which was captured on video, marked the first time they had seen each other since he had left the island nation. 

Fernandez credited his grandmother with teaching him how to catch a baseball and called her “the most important person in my life.”

El Nuevo Herald via Getty Images
The Cuban-born pitcher is seen embracing his grandmother, Olga, following a 2-0 win against the Cincinnati Reds in July 2015.

One of Fernandez’s last posts on Instagram, which showed a woman holding what appears to be a pregnant belly, hinted that he may have been expecting his first child.

“I’m so glad you came into my life. I’m ready for where this journey is gonna take us together. #familyfirst,” its caption read.

Fellow athletes expressed their condolences after hearing the news of Fernandez’s death. 

 This article has been updated throughout.


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