Gaston De Cardenas/Associated Press
MIAMI — Jose Fernandez escaped from Cuba by boat on his fourth try as a teenager, and when his mother fell into the Yucatan Channel during the journey, he jumped in and pulled her out.
Fernandez’s heroic backstory made his death early Sunday that much more heart-wrenching. The charismatic Miami Marlins ace was killed in a boating accident at age 24.
Fernandez and two other people died when their 32-foot vessel slammed into a jetty off Miami Beach, authorities said.
Authorities didn’t know the time of the crash. The capsized boat was found shortly after 3 a.m.
‘‘All I can do is scream in disbelief,’’ said Hall of Famer Tony Perez, a Marlins executive and native of Cuba. ‘‘Jose won the love of all. I feel as if I had lost a son.’’
Major League Baseball released a statement saying it was ‘‘stunned and devastated.’’
The Marlins’ game Sunday at home against Atlanta was canceled. The Braves, along with several other teams, offered condolences.
Within hours after the news broke, Marlins players gathered at the ballpark to grieve together.
‘‘A lot of words were said — meaningful words and emotion and prayer,’’ team president David Samson said. ‘‘Jose is a member of this family for all time.’’
Samson spoke at a news conference while surrounded by every player on the Marlins, except their ace. The players wore team jerseys — black ones. Pitcher David Phelps stared at the floor and shook his head, while outfielder Christian Yelich took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. Their eyes were red. Manager Don Mattingly and president of baseball operations Michael Hill flanked Samson and unsuccessfully fought back tears.
Fernandez was on a vessel that hit a jetty near a harbor entrance, said Lorenzo Veloz of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The overturned boat remained in the water for several hours, its engines partially submerged as its nose pointed skyward, as debris from the crash was scattered over some of the large jagged rocks.
The names of the other two individuals were withheld pending notification of relatives, the Coast Guard said.
Fernandez died from trauma and not drowning, Veloz said, who added there was no immediate indication that alcohol or drugs were a cause in the crash. He said none of the three victims wore a life jacket.
The boat was owned by a friend of Fernandez.
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