QUEENS, N.Y.(PIX11)—"He was such a great kid," Father Bill Sweeney, the chaplain at Saint Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, told the 800 high school classmates of Daniel Fernandez, who gathered for a candlelight vigil Saturday tonight.
"That's the important thing, be good kids and remember the smile on his face."
The 16-year-old was one of 65 students on a party bus headed to a Sweet 16 party in Garfield, N.J., when he popped out of a hatch in the roof and was struck by an overpass near the George Washington Bridge -- his traumatic head injury, fatal. A security guard on the bus reportedly said he told students repeatedly not to open the hatch.
PIX11 asked one parent how she will help her son, a junior, cope. "Just be there for your children," Donna Menna replied.
In less than 24 hours of Daniel's death, more than 1,000 people joined a Facebook group honoring his life. There's talk of renaming the walk-a-thon in his memory. And many more tributes are expected for a student so well-liked.
"He was a real sweetheart. He was always smiling," Jessie West, a junior said. "He was very popular. He will be missed by a lot of people."
Menna had this advice for Daniel's grieving classmates, the same thing she told her children: "I told my kids to remember the last time they saw Dan smiling and had fun with him," Menna said.
Edited By Michelle Robinson