A teenager on his way to a Sweet 16 party was killed after he put his head out of the emergency hatch of a double-decker bus and hit the underside of a Fort Lee  highway overpass, police said.

Sayreville resident Daniel Fernandez, 16, was among 65 teenagers aboard the bus Friday night as it crossed the George Washington Bridge from New York City, said Al Della Fave, spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The accident occurred at the Fletcher Avenue overpass of Interstate 95 at about 6:30 p.m. “Kids said they saw a lot of blood and they saw his head get struck. They were so traumatized,” Leon Tyrone McKivor, a New York City EMT who stopped to help at the scene told the New York Post “I could see the look on their faces. A handful were covered with blood.”

The bus, full of students from St. Francis Prep in Woodside, Queens, was headed to a catering/party facilty in Garfield according to the Post.  The birthday girl’s parents tried to keep news of the tragedy from her but soon learned of the incident thanks to partygoers who received messages on their phones.

Alex Franco, a security guard on the bus, told the Daily News that he had warned the teens to leave the hatch alone. “I told them not to open the hatch, like three or four times, but kids, they don’t understand,” he said.

Franco said he went downstairs to tell the driver that it was getting too hot. “It was very hot. Everybody was dancing. Two, five minutes I was downstairs,” he said. “Then I heard two guys screaming, `Oh, my God, oh, my God.”‘

The teenager was pronounced dead at Hackensack Medical Center, police said. Designer Transportation, which operates the bus, expressed its “deepest heartfelt sympathy” for the boy’s family.

Fernandez’s English teacher at St. Francis Preparatory School was in tears Saturday when she learned he died. She says he was an “adorable, low-key kid” with a sweet smile and lots of friends who was popular “with the girls.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report