17-Year-Old High School Senior Dies in Florida Boating Crash: She 'Was a Joy to All Who Knew Her'

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Lucy Fernandez
Lucy Fernandez

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A Florida community is mourning a 17-year-old high school senior who died over the weekend after the boat she was traveling in capsized near Boca Chita Key.

Lucy Fernandez, a student at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami, died after sustaining injuries in a boating accident, the school announced in a message on their Facebook page.

"Known for her smile, larger than life personality and signature laugh, Lucy was a joy to all who knew her," the school said on Monday night. "The hundreds of people who joined us in the grotto this evening, to pray for the repose of her soul, are a testament to her beautiful legacy of faith, love and sisterhood."

"We extend our heartfelt condolences to Lucy's parents and younger brother, as well as her family and friends, and we share in their grief during this time of great loss," they added. "May we continue to pray with each other and for each other, as we mourn the passing of one of our own. Lucy, may you and your beautiful smile rest in eternal peace."

In statements obtained by PEOPLE, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said the boat Fernandez and 13 others were in struck a "channel marker while traveling in [an] intracoastal waterway" just before 7 p.m. on Sunday.

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"All 14 occupants, which included 12 juveniles and two adults, were ejected from the vessel," the FWC said. "Good Samaritans and multiple responding agencies recovered the occupants from the water and transported them to land and ultimately to hospitals to receive medical attention if necessary."

The agency said they believe alcohol is not a "contributing factor in this accident," and they have launched an investigation.

"Our deepest sympathies are with the victims, their families and friends during this time," they said.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said 11 of the 14 people on the boat were injured, with four victims "suffering traumatic injuries" that required them to be airlifted to a local hospital.

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CBS News reported that the boat's operator hit a channel marker — a type of sign posted in the water to help boaters travel through the waterways — after a second vessel sped past him as he entered the channel, which created a "big wake."

"He said he turned to check and make sure all of the girls were okay and that's when he hit the channel marker," Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Captain Juan Garrandes told the outlet, adding that everyone on the boat was thrown into the water after the collision.

NBC affiliate WTVJ reported that most of the passengers were students from Lourdes Academy and Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart. Both institutions are all-girls Catholic schools.

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The news station reported that Lourdes Academy identified two other students, seniors Katy Puig and Coco Aguilar, as being among those who were seriously injured.

"Our main focus is to tend to the needs spiritual, emotional, and mental needs of our students and faculty and staff who all loved Lucy and are still very concerned about Katy and Coco," Sister Carmen Fernandez told WTVJ.