(NEW YORK) — A Sweet 16 party aboard a party bus ended in tragedy Friday night when a teen stuck his head out of the emergency roof hatch, struck his head on an overpass and died.
Daniel Fernandez, 16, of Queens, New York, was on a double-decker party bus carrying 65 teens to a birthday party in New Jersey when the accident happened between 6:30 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., Port Authority Police Department spokesman Steve Coleman said. He said he wasn’t sure how many adults were on board.
The driver picked up the party-goers from Saint Francis Preparatory School in Queens, where they start class next week, and was headed toward the New Jersey Turnpike. Just after Fernandez opened the hatch and stuck his head out, the bus passed under the Fletcher Avenue overpass, where Fernandez struck his head, Coleman said.
Emergency responders rushed Fernandez to Hackensack Medical Center as his classmates took to twitter with the hashtag #staystrongdan and #prepfam.
“Just hoping for that one tweet or trxt with good news, this isnt fair,” wrote Twitter user Bobby Perretti.
“Be strong Dan. Your going to be okay. You can do it kid. We’re all praying for you,” tweeted Melissa Dericioglu.
Fernandez was pronounced dead at the hospital, and users started tweeting their grief with the hashtag #ripdan. Many said they couldn’t sleep or that they woke up crying.
The limousine company, Designer Limousine in Port Washington, N.Y., said the hatch on the “Double Decker Mega Liner” roof was intended for emergency escape only. The party bus boasts two bars, two dance floors, nightclub lighting and 15 flat-screen televisions, according to the Designer Limousine website.
“This is a terrible tragedy,” Designer Limousine manager Alicia Pitzer told ABCNews.com. She said the company will conduct an internal investigation.
“What happened, happened,” she said. “We can’t turn back the hands of time.”
The Bergen County Prosecutor’s office will handle the police investigation going forward. Police said it was not clear whether any charges will be filed, or whether the teens were drinking.
A 25-year-old woman was killed as she fell from a moving party bus last month in Los Gatos, Calif., on her way home from a concert. In 2010, a 19-year-old died in a car crash after drinking aboard a party bus, prompting his father to speak out for tougher restrictions on so-called “booze cruises.” As a result, a San Mateo lawmaker has proposed a California bill that would hold the bus drivers responsible for underage drinking in the vehicle.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles, CNN
Caroline Kenny, CNN
Andreas Preuss, CNN
Evan Perez and Pamela Brown, CNN