On April 6, 2012, Spanish Fly host Jose Wejebe’s fatal airplane accident left family, friends and the angling world asking why. While Jose may no longer be physically with us, his legacy always will be. As a guide and television show host, he inspired so many people to get out on the water and take advantage of the resource he loved so much. Off camera, Jose was a huge proponent of various charities and was known to donate his time, money and equipment to organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the MARC House, Wounded Warriors, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, to name a few.
To continue Jose’s passion to help others, those who knew him best, including his daughter, Krissy Wejebe, and Michael Torbisco of Spanish Fly Enterprises, along with Dave Pfeiffer, president of Shimano American, set up the Jose Wejebe Spanish Fly Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support causes involving marine conservation, education and individuals with special needs. The organization will contribute and participate in fundraising and humanitarian work through ocean and marine-life related activities.
Before his untimely passing, Jose was an integral member of the Hell’s Bay Boatworks team. In his honor, the company established the Hell’s Bay Boatworks Professional Guide Award. On Jan. 21, 2013, in Titusville, Florida, at the Second Annual Hell’s Bay Guide Rendezvous, a guide selected by his peers, the foundation and Hell’s Bay for going above and beyond in conservation efforts, education and professionalism in the angling community received the award.
Krissy Wejebe and Michael Torbisco were present to grant the award to Naples, Florida, guide Capt. Jeff Legutki.
At the end of the powerful ceremony, Torbisco shared a story about a hard drive that was recovered from Jose Wejebe’s crash site. Shortly after the accident, Torbisco plugged the drive in his computer and it didn’t register. Months later, out of the blue, he saw it sitting on his desk and opted to try it one more time. As luck and possibly fate would have it, the drive registered and he frantically transferred the images to his computer. Once the transfer was complete, he viewed the images and was stunned to see that he had just restored photos of the last fish Jose ever caught, a tarpon to which Capt. Jeff Legutki had guided him.
Jose Wejebe was born in 1958 in Havana, Cuba. Fleeing Fidel Castro’s revolution, he and his family moved to Miami. It was in the waters around south Florida that his passion for the ocean took shape and his career as a world-class angler and fishing personality began. To learn how you can contribute to the Jose Wejebe Spanish Fly Memorial Foundation, visit www.josewejebefoundation.org.