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Party on bus turns deadly as teen’s head hits overpass

NEW YORK – It’s a familiar scene on city streets and in movies: dressed-up teenagers packed into a stretch limo, celebrating something important by jubilantly sticking their heads through the roof.

A bigger version of that is the rented party bus, which can pack in more guests. Renting such buses – some two stories high, offering such amenities as strobe lights and satellite TV – “is what kids call fun nowadays,” said Emily DaRocha of the Silver Star Limousine company.

But such trips also carry more risk. Daniel Fernandez, 16, was fatally struck on Friday when he poked his head through a hatch on a double-decker bus as the bus went under an overpass, authorities said.

“No matter how many times you tell clients this is an emergency exit – it’s written on the glass – they still open it,” DaRocha said. “It happens all the time.”

Safety precautions must be part of the package, though, too. For a group of 40 guests, Silver Star requires two adults be aboard if the group is made up of teens or children 18 or under.

“It’s much more dangerous when you have a double-decker with 65 kids – because they’re hard to control,” DaRocha said.

A security guard who was on board the bus told reporters he watched for all but a few minutes, when he’d gone downstairs. And that’s when the hatch was opened, after the bus crossed the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey.