Francis Prep student killed in bus accident: Port Authority

Daniel Fernandez
TimesLedger Newspapers
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A 16-year-old boy from Woodside was killed Friday night while on a bus to a Sweet 16 party after sticking his head through an emergency hatch and smashing his head against an overpass, according to the Port Authority.

Daniel Fernandez, who was a student at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, was on his way from the school to the party in Garfield, N.J., with 64 other students when the incident occurred at 6:30 p.m., said Port Authority spokesman Steve Coleman.

He said the double-decker bus was headed for Route 95 near Fort Lee, N.J., when Fernandez hit his head against the underside of the Fletcher Avenue overpass.

Fernandez was taken to Hackensack University Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, Coleman said.

Friends and fellow students reacted in shock and mourning on social media Friday and Saturday.

“Remember all our jokes & laughs & how you would always make fun of me but then feel bad & tell me you loved me! #ripdan i love & miss you,” wrote Nikki Morales on Twitter.

Bergen County, N.J., prosecutors will make a determination about whether any charges will be filed, Coleman said.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Posted 6:25 pm, September 1, 2012
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Reader feedback

Candice Ward from St. Louis, Missouri says:
I'm so sorry to hear about the teenage. God blessed the family.
Sept. 1, 2012, 7:39 pm
headless horseman from salem NC says:
the kid lost his head for a secound
Sept. 1, 2012, 7:50 pm
Common sense from Warren Ohio says:
Survival of the fittest ...
Sept. 1, 2012, 8:59 pm
Francine from NY says:
My condolences go out to the family of this innocent boy. What a horrific, tragic nightmare this is for the family and for the other kids that saw this happen to their friend.

Anyone who is making light of this situation or cracking jokes should be ashamed of themselves!

As a mother and just a human being, my heart goes out to everyone affected by this. I know someone who was very good friends with him and it's just such a tragedy...
Sept. 1, 2012, 9:11 pm
boosie bad from 13th st. so says:
Charges against who he did it..... come on people
Sept. 1, 2012, 9:12 pm
Joyce from Cleveland says:
Prayers for the family...sorry for your lost
Sept. 1, 2012, 9:12 pm
lisa from seneca ohio says:
My prayers go out to him and his family
Sept. 1, 2012, 9:26 pm
mad max says:
Where were the adults?
Sept. 1, 2012, 9:27 pm
smiley from Dallas tx says:
Yea where were the adults when this kind of things happened my prayers and thought to this young teenager God bless his families
Sept. 1, 2012, 10:36 pm
cathy from New York says:
There will be no charges - the only person to blame is Dan. There was adult supervision right there on the top level of the bus - there was a security guard. The kids were messing around and he told them very specifically NOT to touch the emergency hatch. They were dancing around and complained it was hot. The guard went downstairs for a moment to tell the drive they were complaining it was hot (and presumably to ask him to turn the a/c up. He had been downstairs no more than two minutes when he heard screaming from up above.

So the kid deliberately defied the direct instructions of the adult in charge, who had stepped away for just a minute to try and make the kids more comfortable.

Pretty damn clear who's fault it was. No, the kid didn't deserve to die, but you can't try and blame anyone else for this tragedy.
Sept. 1, 2012, 10:46 pm
Steve from Bergen County says:
the kid is 100% responsible, there's nothing else to it. Its the classic case of being told 'dont put your hand in the fire', unfortunately the consequence was a lot worse than burning his hand. my condolences go out to his family nonetheless.
Sept. 1, 2012, 10:51 pm
daddy from the hood says:
He was probably under the influence , st Francis prep kids are crackheads that do reckless things , he was probably a cool kid but it was all his fault smh hope bus company doesn't get sued , not there fault at all
Sept. 2, 2012, 3:31 am
joh says:
good to know that these students did not lose their heads in this situation.
Sept. 2, 2012, 6:02 am
fife16 from penns grove says:
If the kids were told not to mess wit the hatch, tben u gotta blame the kid.. i also undrrstand that maybe a parent/guardian should have been around. There are alot of different things you could look at... my prayers go out to his family and friends.
Sept. 2, 2012, 6:17 am
bill from pompano beach says:
Terrible accident! Those of you that find humor in this child's death should be careful not to curse yourself. Under no circumstances is this humorous.

My heart goes out to the boys family and the kids on the bus.
Sept. 2, 2012, 6:40 am
Elizabeth from Maine says:
My heartfelt thoughts to family and friends.

I agree that Daniel is responsible for this tragedy. He made an unsafe decision at the worst possible moment.

I do wonder why the students were dancing on the bus. Had they also been told to stay in their seats? It sounds like many of them were not listening to the adult in charge. How tragic and sad.
Sept. 2, 2012, 6:44 am
Dee from Paradise Valley says:
I am sorry for the lose to his family and friends. I am concerned for the other students who witnessed this hoffific tragedy. I can't imagine the pain his parents feel. Very sad lesson to learn.
Sept. 2, 2012, 6:45 am
Susan Feldman from Manhattan says:
When they told the kids not to mess with the hatch...did they explain why..that this sort of thing could happen? Although the kids should have just obeyed orders, this could have deterred them from not complying. I wil disagree with everyone here in saying that at although the young man should have listened, the bus company knew these were teenagers...and they left the hatch open. Possibly there should have been a lock on it if that is legal. I remember something similar happening in a limo in Manhattan several years ago. Maybe we are just doing to much partying...acting crazy...and doingfolish thbings.
Sept. 2, 2012, 6:49 am
jules81 from cport says:
To the family and friends, i send my prayers and condolences. May God keep you all in this time of sorrow.
Sept. 2, 2012, 6:59 am
Bess from nc says:
The adult s were on the bus. From another article (USA today) it said they had been told repeatedly by the security guard here not to open the hatch. The issue here is not blaming anyone. There is a huge issue to be learned from this though, and that is the lesson of obedience. Kids are not taught that anymore in any conventional school,which is one reason that we home school. When kids are taught obedience and a respect for authority, understanding that it's for the best whether or not they can see the reason, it does keep them safer and can even save their life or the life of someone else.
Sept. 2, 2012, 7:01 am
Monty from west virginia says:
Sympathy to his family and friends, may the lord be with them.
Sept. 2, 2012, 7:04 am
crazy8 says:
Seriously? We r talking about 16 year olds here not little children. They r responsible enough to know that sticking your head out of a hatch on a double decker bus would be bad. Its just kids being kids. It's the "hey look what I can do" and the hope that the reaction would be " wow! He is sooooo cool" hard lesson to learn. In no way shape or form is anyone responsible for his death but himself. I'm sure the ambulance chasers are alreaey calling the family. Very sad stoey to lose your child over stupidity.
Sept. 2, 2012, 7:07 am
james taylor says:
Kid was a fool to even do something like that on a moving
bus on the highway just foolish
Sept. 2, 2012, 7:09 am
Char a mom from California says:
My prayers go out to all the teenagers who witness this tragedy and for anyone who dared him to do it, you had no idea that your dare would cause his death.
Sept. 2, 2012, 7:18 am
fletcher from atl says:
I had a teacher who used to say that sometimes, someone's purpose is to be a lesson to others. Tragic yes. Kids however don't listen. Think of all the kids, and possibly THEIR kids in future, who might take heed when someone says don't do something as a result of one kid NOT listening.
Sept. 2, 2012, 7:25 am
Dwayne from Palm Valley says:
This is a very sad tragedy! I feel for the parents who lost their son. This is a classic case of not listening to instuctions. Theres always gonna be one kid who doesn't listen Why didn't the other kids say "hey don't do that".? For you low life scumbags that are making fun of this. You are going to rot in hell!!!!!
Sept. 2, 2012, 7:35 am
Tessa Johnson says:
This is very sad and I can't even imagine how his family feels. To try and place blame on the bus company or driver would really be ridiculous!! I feel that even if the guard didn't tell the kids not to open the hatch, it still wouldn't be their fault. Even though kids don't always make the right decisions, at sixteen, that's old enough to know right from wrong. We must always be responsible for outr own actions. I still feel sorry for him and his family though.. At sixteen, you would know not to jump in front of a moving car; so this is no diff from that. I also feel for the kids that had to witness this horrible tragedy. Its just sad!!!
Sept. 2, 2012, 7:41 am
Random from nj says:
I'm sorry for the loss and it's sad that a stupid mistake cost him his life. But he was 16, not 10!! At that age, you'd think someone would be mature enough to understand to follow orders and at the very least have some common sense.

The security guard on the bus warned them repeatedly to not mess with the hatch! But many young people don't respect authority and don't listen. Really, what more could the security guard have done? God forbid you leave a perfectly sane 16 year old alone for 2 seconds! And adding a lock or something to the hatch will make it that much harder to escape in the event of a real emergency.

In any case, its really sad it came to this but hope instead of suing, the family can try to make it a point for others to obey authority and prevent something like this from happening again.
Sept. 2, 2012, 7:49 am
Lynn.B from Indiana says:
I agree the situation is very tragic, however the fault lies with the young man. My prayers are with his family and friends. At what age should one take responsibility for their actions?
Sept. 2, 2012, 7:55 am
Ms Keels from fayettenam says:
No one should be charged in this case at all. Yes its very sad that a young man loss his life but he should have followed instructions (if they were told not to open the latch). Condolences to family and everyone involved.
Sept. 2, 2012, 7:57 am
The gods from Dmv says:
Safe travels little bro
Sept. 2, 2012, 8 am
holloup says:
Its not his fault,sometimes kids dont listened,but 65 kids inside a bus,hot,please,even me I would do that "stupidity" if they no that that part can kill you ,he dont supposted to leave that area is it another way of communication,he is a child 16 but everyone who have a 16 knows the that age is running back to 10,and those peoples knows more than that.
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:04 am
Betty from Dallas, TexasO says:
Obedience is better than sacrifice. My heart goes out to all involved in this story that demonstrates so many lessons to learn. Parents who committed money for a special time for their kids. A school that provided a social experience of teaching sixteen year holds to act and be responsible. Security personnel to provide wisdom of safe instructions. All the levels of LOVE ands forethought were there. What was missing or noynot missing? Defiance on a level of immaturity from one student or a group urging him on? May all involved find obedience as a rule of thumb.At some point in life it must always be honoured for survival from someone in your life. . . people.
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:08 am
ericonacally from yonkers says:
Look at his picture. He looks like the next generation of rapist. Stupid retard didn't pay attention, refused to listen.... not his fault though, he just lost his head. Bet his parents sue, they should be neutered.
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:10 am
butcher says:
So does this mean he's the head of the class
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:15 am
santi from toledo says:
Very sad. Even if it was hot on that bus that was no emergency to open the hatch. Even if you open the hatch to let some fresh air in that's not an emergency.we were all 16 once. That extra step of sticking his head out the window was an attempt to be funny and perhaps entertain his friends. His actions cost him his life. even if there was an emergency for fresh air climbing out of an emergency hatch on a moving bus was his tragic mistake but the monitor or the bus emergency hatch in emergency only.very sorry to family and friends. A fund should be set up to help family.
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:20 am
Trish from Dallas, Texas says:
Students of the 21st century are eager to become iconic heroes to anything and anyone who pays attention. The young man got the world's attention by tragically sacrificing his own life. Parents, educators, are we doing enough to save them? Are we doing too much that there is not enough time for them to absorb the lessons they should be learning. A tragedy at the hands of one student that left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of many for a lifetime
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:30 am
Kelly from Louisiana says:
This is indeed a tragic story but let's be realistic. The family will sue the bus company. And unfortunately because we have the idea in this country that everything is big companies fault the bus company will lose and pay an outrageous sum of money. This was a 16 yr old who was told not to touch the hatch but did it anyway trying to be "cool". Kids nowadays have NO RESPECT for authority. This is not the bus company's fault, the security guard or the school. It's the PARENTS. It's their resposibility to teach their kids that NO means No!!!
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:31 am
Broad ST. from Nyc says:
The only comment that should be made is......what a great lost to the family and friends of Dan. Many blessing be with this young man....nuff said!!!
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:32 am
the man from everywhere says:
I have done this many times.... with my training he could have been the best.
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:34 am
Ernest from Ohio says:
To the "headless horseman" its quite obvious how you got your name.
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:34 am
twintbb from state college says:
This a tough lesson to teach kids. Lets hope this story goes nation wide so kids will know the danger of doing the wrong thing. This is a sad story indeed. Prayers for the family and the kids on the bus.
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:35 am
Leilani from Las Vegas says:
My Prayers for this young man, his family and those whom witness this tragic accident. May God be with them all.
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:36 am
chamire from mt Airy says:
My prayers and condolences go out to his family and friends.
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:41 am
runa says:
To previous poster. Susan Feldman. Do u ned to tell a 16 year old the consequences of every action? Do u have to tell them that jumping off a building will result in death? Those hatches are latched but cannot be "locked" in case of an emergency. To say to a 16 year old " don't touch" should be suffice enough. They also have stuckers on them that say for emergency use only. A 16 year old from a prep school can read I'm sure. You must be a lawyer. Or someone that.would blame everyone but your own kid for a stupid action.
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:45 am
yadoo from warren, mi says:
The boy was looking to escape to another dimention.
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:47 am
jmr0776 from out of state says:
"Stupid is as stupid does sir"
Sept. 2, 2012, 8:54 am
Alex from Brooklyn says:
Was underage drinking occurring on the bus? If so the bus company is at least partially liable. They established a dangerous environment.
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:07 am
scb from ky says:
Have we all been perfect? We have all done stupid things but in this case it unfortunately cost him his life. To all those who have said ugly.nasty. and undeserved comments, wil reap what you sow and you will know before you leave this earth when it comes back to you. By saying those things it shows what kind of human you are. God be with Dan and his family and friends.
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:09 am
Chris from North Carolina says:
The only person to blame is the kid. There was a security guard present that left for a brief second. Lock on emergency hatch? come on.....explain the consequences??? This was not a little kid, this was a 16 year old. in two years he could have voted/joined the armed services...he was practically an adult. He was a popular kid who was trying to show off to his friends. He did not listen to the guard, who probably had his hands full with a party bus full of kids that were more than likly mocking him and obviously disobeying him. I bet the other kids that were taking part in this now wish they would have listened to the security guard. So sad...prayers go out to the family.
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:11 am
Shay from Brooklyn NY says:
God bless his soul n the friends who witnessed this horrible tragedy. I feel for Dan's family blessing to themn their time of sorrow!
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:12 am
Marc from Iowa says:
Ok, just so I'm clear, when something like a hurricane or tornado happens, it's god's way of showing his displeasure with their sinful deeds, but this kid paying the price for his stupid actions deserves nothing but sympathy? He screwed up, with fatal consequences. End of story. He's old enough to drive, that should be old enough to have responsibility for what one does actually directed at them.

And how is this not a little funny? If the same kid (or anyone else, really) was doing something dumb, and hurt themselves, it would be funny. He died, which may be sad, but the fact remains this was of his own doing.
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:15 am
MartidaleTV from Texas says:
I found the story to be sad, but the comments posted here are pitifully. Apparently, both literacy and compassion are dead.
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:17 am
momof3 from LINY says:
Prayers to this boy's family & friends & to all those young people who had to witness such a horrible tragedy. My sympathies to you all.
I agree that young kids today generally do not seem to respect authority, do not listen when told to do or not to do something. How much adult supervision was present on that bus for the # of kids? Would it have made a difference? Who knows. But when the kids were out of their seats dancing around, the bus should've found a place to pull over & refuse to move until the kids were all seated & remained there. They were hot because of their own actions of dancing around on a bus.
Kids lack the common sense to realize that their reactions can unfortunately result in their own or someone's else's harm or death, as in this case. If they had common sense, they wouldn't do the stupid things that they do & there wouldn't be articles about a young life lost to a tragedy.
Bottom line however, is kids do need to respect authority, rules & the people in charge telling them what to do & what not to do. Especially teenagers. These are not little kids here. All around it is a very very sad situation.
Also to all those people posting jokes about something so horrible...would you be making such jokes, being an idiot if it were a family member, someone you knew, the loved one of a friends, etc??..shame on all of you. Hell holds a special place I'm sure for sick people that make jokes of a tragedy.
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:30 am
Diana from Holland, MI says:
This tragedy is a 100% accident made by a poor choice from a 16 yrs old teenager. Nobody should be blamed, the young teenager made his own poor choice and it ended up he lost his life. It is a hard lesson to learn for other teenagers and a sad/big lost for his family, however I hope nobody should be charged for this sad accident. My prayers and thought are for Daniel's family and for everybody involved in this tragedy. RIP Daniel!!
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:35 am
Kane from Flushing says:
You know, this is just one of those sad, yet typical, childhood stories. A teenager did something stupid and paid a way-too-high of a price for it. The real gold is found not in the article itself, but rather in the comments below.

Thank you internet. Thank you for giving the morons of our great nation a forum to voice their opinions. Keep commenting people, with your help every lame local news clipping can become pulitzer material.
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:35 am
psilocybe says:
This is retarded, nobody is to blame here.. a kid made a dumb decision plain and simple.. if anything his peers should be judged for not stoppping him.. my heart goes out to his family, not so much to the bus passengers though.. they created this disaster..
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:40 am
psilocybe says:
Make sweet 16 parties illegal!!! So future tragedies Wont happen..
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:45 am
J Rey from Sf says:
We prosecute 16 year olds as adults, he shouldve known that its called "emergency" for a reason. Not blaming the bus company at all unless they forced his head out the hatch to see a smashed head. Dumbass will always be a dumbass. Welcome to the UNITED STATES OF DUMBASSES!
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:45 am
psilocybe says:
Don't text while sticking your head out of an emergency escape hatch!!
Sept. 2, 2012, 9:50 am
Rose from Queens says:
Haven't any of you ever made a mistake? We've all done things in our life that we were lucky enough to survive.
Have a heart and pray for Dan and his family !
Sept. 2, 2012, 12:13 pm
VivianneMorales from Kew garden hills says:
My heart goes out to Dan as well as all the people on the bus that night. No one will ever be the same. I pray for his family during this very rough time.
Sept. 2, 2012, 3:28 pm
Lou from Bayside says:
To all the parents who spend 7K a year or more to send their kids to Prep so they dont have to attend public school with the "bad element" the ones you dont want your kids to be with, take a good luck at the out of control kids in the pictures taken on the bus prior to the accident and you might realize the bad element you were trying to stay away from is really right under your nose!
Sept. 3, 2012, 8:45 am
Sharon says:
I am noticing many posts that are obviously the work of very immature people. Have you no decency? Have you ever considered that this young man's family may be viewing these posts. You should be ashamed of yourselves. God bless this family, and may they stay strong during this terrible time.
Sept. 3, 2012, 11:12 am
iman from katsina says:
I feel sorry for the family,it was such a tragedic incidence.
Sept. 3, 2012, 2:06 pm
Gigi from Bay Ridge says:
It breaks my heart just to think how his parents and the entire family are going through right now. The parents of this child will never be the same. In my experience, I lost a dear cousin when she was 13 yrs old due to a fire accident in the basement of the house. Unfortunately, her brother (age 8 at the time) was playing with a box of matches and it burned the whole basement down. Since then the entire family hasn't been the same.
Sept. 4, 2012, 10:26 am

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