Jose Fernandez, the ace right-hander for the Miami Marlins who escaped Cuba to become one of baseball's brightest stars, was killed in boating accident early Sunday morning. Fernandez was 24.
The Marlins announced Fernandez's death, and the U.S. Coast Guard confirmed that Fernandez was one of three people killed in a boat crash off Miami Beach.
In the statement, the Marlins say they are "devastated by the tragic loss of José Fernández. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."
Former teammates and educators at Alonso High School in Hillsborough County started gathering at the baseball field on Sunday afternoon. Fernandez helped the school win a state championship in 2011.
"He was just a dominate pitcher here and he made this school's name when he made it to Miami," said former teammate Nate Hahn.
Hahn said Fernandez even came back to visit his alma mater a few times after he graduated. Wayne Crowell was the school's resource officer when Fernandez attended.
"We are like family to him and he was like family to us," said Crowell.
Fernandez's former classmates and teammates are planning a memorial service at the school this week.