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DJ Laz accepts plea deal in boating death

Radio host to pay fines, complete community service

MIAMI – DJ Laz pleaded no contest through his attorney Wednesday to careless driving resulting in death stemming from a boating accident last year that killed a 23-year-old man.

The radio personality, whose real name is Lazaro Mendez, was not criminally charged in the incident, although he received a citation.

Mendez did not appear in court Wednesday, and the family of the victim, Ernesto Hernandez, called him a coward.

Mendez's attorney, Mycki Ratzan, said he feels for the Hernandez family, but said they have turned the incident into a media frenzy. Ratzan claims that Mendez wanted to meet with the family, but they declined. She said Mendez did not appear in court Wednesday because the court date had been rescheduled before.

As part of the plea deal, DJ Laz will pay a $500 civil penalty, give a $1,000 donation to a beach restoration fund and serve 120 hours of community service. He is also required to take a boating safety course.

Hernandez, 23, was killed after his upper body was sliced by a propeller on the Voli vodka party boat that DJ Laz was operating. Hernandez was trying to help the radio host get the boat off the Nixon Beach sandbar.

Authorities said toxicology tests showed that Hernandez had been drinking on the night of the accident. Mendez refused to submit to any intoxication tests, and authorities said Florida Fish and Wildlife officers did not see any signs of impairment and could not force him to submit to tests.

Hernandez's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Mendez.

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About the Authors:

Amanda Batchelor is the managing editor for Local10.com.