It was the knock on the door Maritza Gomez Fernandez wished she never had to answer. Police officers arrived to her home with devastating news about her son, Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez.
Maritza shared her memories of her lost son in an exclusive interview obtained by NBC 6’s sister station, Telemundo 51.
“It was 6:10 a.m. and my phone rings, but I didn’t pick up. It rang again,” Maritza said in Spanish.
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She talked about the morning she learned of her son’s demise.
“The voice on the other side says, ‘Are you Jose’s mom? Where is Jose?’ I answered, ‘Jose stayed in his apartment.’”
She then called Jose’s apartment, but no one answered. That’s when she called the Marlins player’s girlfriend, who told her he wasn’t with her. Maritza began to panic, and Jose’s girlfriend tried to calm her down. Moments later, police officers arrived at her front door with the heartbreaking news.
She said officers told her they found the slugger’s boat overturned but were unable at the time to find any bodies. Maritza said minutes later she knew her only son had died.
“I cried, I screamed. It was like I was no longer in this world,” Maritza explained in Spanish. “My mom was sleeping; she came out of her room. It was horrible.”
Her 24-year-old son, along with two friends, was killed Sept. 25 when the boat Jose was operating crashed into a rocky jetty off Miami Beach. The Marlins player had cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time of the crash, according to an autopsy report. Jose's mother said she'll never accept the coroner's report.
"I don't agree and will never agree with the investigation. My son played ball. His performance isn't that of someone who took drugs," Maritza said. "Now, my son is to blame."
She said she has no words for other mothers who lost their sons. "All I can say is that I am sorry. No one wants to lose a son."
Eight months after the tragedy, she remembers her son’s promise to be the best Cuban American pitcher ever known to the major league.
“The last time I saw my son he was fooling around at Marlins Park,” said the grieving mother. "He told me, 'Strawberry mom, everthing is fine."
Those were the last words Jose told her. She said to her son, strawberry meant beauty and that's why he called her that and why she has the word tattooed on her arm.
Every day, Maritza grieves and tries to understand the death of her son.
“Every night at 10:50, I expect him to walk through the door. In the morning, I take him his coffee like I always did; light candles and talk to him,” Maritza said. There are so many questions she wants answered. “Papi, I want you to explain to me what happened.”
Jose and his mother were together when they tried to escape Cuba. The pitcher saved his mother’s life after she fell in the deep ocean.
Maritza said she’s overwhelmed with the outpouring of love for her son when he died.
“He could have never imagined how people loved him and what they felt for him. The people waiting at the church to just say their goodbyes was amazing,” she said.
Meanwhile, the mother of one of the two other men killed in the crash is also talking about losing her son.
"I will never again feel his generosity," Maria Elena said.
Emilio Macias' mother said she is not looking to blame anyone for her son's death.
Macias was a financial analyst for Wells Fargo and was hoping to manage Jose's finances.
Elena is currently under mediation with her ex-husband, Macias' day over the location of their son's remains. Also, the family filed a lawsuit against the Fernandez estate for wrongful death.
"I am not asking for anything because I don't have anything. I have never cared about money. The attorneys don't have answers and they haven't told me anything," said Elena.