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Francis Prep student killed in bus accident mourned by hundreds during candlelit vigil

Hundreds of teenagers surround a statue of Saint Francis during a memorial for Daniel Fernandez. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

Hundreds of mourning students gathered at St. Francis Preparatory in Fresh Meadows Saturday night for a candlelight vigil in remembrance of Daniel Fernandez, a 16-year-old student who died in a horrific accident on a party bus the night before.

Following a private service inside the school’s chapel, teenagers processed to the corner of Francis Lewis Boulevard and the Horace Harding Expressway, where they placed lit candles in front of a statue of the school’s patron saint.

As prayers were said, several students began to sob loudly.

Friends spoke of Fernandez as a good-humored boy who got along with everyone and was a talented artist.

Madden McDonagh, 16, who attended Our Lady of Hope Catholic school with Fernandez from fifth to eighth grade, said he was always kidding around and despite being a newcomer to the elementary school was instantly accepted by his peers, which she said was uncommon.

“I still can’t believe it,” McDonagh said. “I’m just shocked … I would never have expected something like this to happen.”

Fernandez died on Aug. 31 after sticking his head through the escape hatch of a double-decker party bus and hitting his head against the underside of an underpass.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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