Outpouring of Grief for Queens Teen Killed in N.J. Bus Accident

By Paul DeBenedetto on September 4, 2012 6:09pm 

Daniel Fernandez, 17, a junior at St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, struck his head on an overpass near the George Washington Bridge, and was pronounced dead around 6:45 p.m. at Hackensack University Hospital, according to reports.
Daniel Fernandez, 17, a junior at St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows, struck his head on an overpass near the George Washington Bridge, and was pronounced dead around 6:45 p.m. at Hackensack University Hospital, according to reports.
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QUEENS — A Queens high school student who was killed when he stuck his head outside a party bus on the way to a New Jersey Sweet 16 Friday was mourned by friends, family and classmates who set up an online tribute in his honor.

Daniel Fernandez, 17, a junior at St. Francis Preparatory School at 61-00 Francis Lewis Blvd. in Fresh Meadows, stuck his head through an escape hatch and died after striking an overpass near the George Washington Bridge, according to reports.

A Facebook group was set up later that night in memory of the teen, who lived in Woodside. By Tuesday, the page had more than 1,000 followers, who left hundreds of comments. 

"You were a great friend to all of us," posted one friend. "Honestly, you showed us how to live life. I know [you're] up there watching over us and protecting us everyday."

Other students offered to make wrist bands, pins and bracelets memorializing Daniel, who friends described as upbeat, and who played bagpipes and danced as a member of a Spanish social club in Astoria, according to reports.

"You're one of those people [that's] always happy and cheerful and every time I was with you [I'd] be in a better mood after," one post said. "You've made a huge impact on all our lives, and you continue to now."

Another post from Monday offering to sell wrist bands with the teen's name for $2, with sales of the bracelet going towards a scholarship fund, received more than 100 comments of support.

Even those who didn't know Daniel but heard his tragic story stopped by to pay their respects.

"I've never met you and I don't even go to prep, but I've heard such great things about you and you really seemed like a great guy," another student said. "It's not fair that your life would be taken at such a young age. I wish I got the chance to meet you."

On Monday evening, hundreds of mourners gathered at the Kearns Funeral Home in Rego Park to pay their respects, according to reports.

"It's difficult," an emotional Jose Fernandez, the boy's father, told the Daily News. "We are handling it the best we can."

A call to Designer Limousines, the company that operated the bus, was not immediately returned. But the company's website on Tuesday displayed an official statement.

"We at Designer Limousine extend our heartfelt sympathy to the family, friends and classmates of the young man who tragically died Friday night," the message said. "Our thoughts and prayers are first and foremost with them.

"We remain focused on helping everyone involved, including our dedicated employees, through this very difficult time."

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