Daniel Fernandez was with 64 friends on a double-decker party bus when he stuck his head out of the emergency roof hatch as the bus crossed the George Washington Bridge. His head struck a highway overpass in Fort Lee and he died on impact. He was 16 years old.
Fernandez,16, of Woodside, was headed with his friends to a Sweet Sixteen party in New Jersey when the accident occurred. He was about to begin his junior year at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows.
Fernanzdez's head struck the bottom of the Fletcher Avenue overpass around 6:45 p.m. as the bus was headed on a southbound approach to I-95. After he hit his head on the overpass, which caused extreme trauma, he was rushed to the Hackensack University Medical center where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
A security guard that was onboard at the time of the incident told reporters that he had gone to the lower level of the bus as it was approaching the overpass, but had warned the teens not to mess with the emergency hatch.
In honor of Fernandez's memory, a candlelight vigil was held on Saturday, September 1, at St. Francis Prep. Chaplain Father Bill Sweeney of St. Francis Prep told reporters, “His smile lit up the room. He really made a difference for so many.”
Friends of Fernandez used the social media website Twitter to get their message of mourning across as well. “Sitting here with your blood on my foot wishing this was dream. I love you so much dan you were there for me till he last second,” one post read.
On Tuesday, September 4, mourners formed long lines outside of a Rego Park funeral home. Emotions ran so high that emergency medical personnel had to be called to the funeral home to assist Fernandez's grandmother.