SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida school paid tribute to a student who was killed in a 2022 boat crash, as well as a close friend who survived the tragedy, during a moving graduation ceremony.

Wearing their cap and gowns, 208 girls took part in graduation night at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Southwest Miami-Dade, Thursday.

The ceremony was a bittersweet one for the high school graduates, after losing one of her classmates earlier in the school year.

A group of friends were returning from a birthday celebration during Labor Day weekend when they were involved in a violent boat crash near Boca Chita on Biscayne Bay.

One of the passengers, 17-year-old Lucy Fernandez, lost her life in the crash. Ten others were injured.

Thursday night, Fernandez’s parents walked down the stage to receive their daughter’s honorary diploma.

“The fact that she was such a hard worker, and her work ethic and her grades and, you know, all the things that she wanted to achieve, she really didn’t talk about it that much, but we saw it as her parents every day,” said Meli Fernandez, the victim’s mother. “She was so disciplined, and it showed last night when we received her National Honor Society and all her cords, and it was a very moving moment, but it was also heartbreaking to know the reality of what has happened.”

A survivor of the boat crash, Katy Puig came onstage on a wheelchair pushed by her sister, who was in tears, as the audience erupted in cheers.

Puig, whose life was forever changed by the crash, was one of Fernandez’s best friends.

The Class of 2023 recognized Fernandez and Puig for their love and sisterhood in good and bad times.

It was a sisterhood that the Fernandez family also honored.

“The Lucy Fernandez Foundation has two main initiatives: the Love Like Lucy Scholarship and the FLY HIGH BIRD Boater and Watercraft Safety initiatives,” said Meli. “Our goal with the foundation is, specifically the Love Like Lucy scholarships, is to provide transformative experiences to a young lady in our community that is looking to make an impact and shine her own light in her own unique way.”

The foundation also has the FLY HIGH BIRD Initiative, which supports, promotes and celebrates Lucy’s favorite pastime: being on the water.

“We’ve created the FLY HIGH BIRD flag, which is a flag that you are going to be able to fly on your boat that is going to show everybody that you not only care for your family and your crew but others around you,” said Andy Fernandez, the victim’s father. “Things need to be done differently. Doing things the same way is not enough, because we need to do our best to prevent just one more tragedy from happening.”

They hope Fernandez’s legacy can bring light to many more families.

“She was very welcoming, she was very warm,” said Andy.

“She was funny, she was witty, smart as a whip, I mean, she was awesome. She was an awesome kid,” said Meli.

Fernandez’s loved ones said their strength comes from the outpouring of support they’ve received from the community and from Fernandez herself, who they said is guiding them from above.

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