'School's gonna be a mess today': friends of Vaughan teen killed in crash return to class

Friends of the Vaughan teen who died in a single-vehicle crash during winter break returned to class for the first time Monday. They remembered 16-year-old Daniel Zeno as an outgoing and well-liked classmate.

Students remembered Daniel Zeno, 16, as an outgoing and well-liked classmate

Daniel Zeno, 16, was killed in a crash near King Vaughan Road and Kipling Avenue last week. (Facebook )

Classmates of the Vaughan teen who died in a single-vehicle crash during winter break returned to class for the first time Monday.

Daniel Zeno, 16, was a passenger in an SUV that crashed shortly before midnight on Jan. 1.

Four other people, ranging in age from 15 and 17, were injured when the crash took place. The vehicle was travelling westbound on King Vaughan Road approaching Kipling Avenue when it veered off the road near a sharp curve and struck a tree.

Before the first bell on Monday morning, students at Emily Carr Secondary in Woodbridge expressed their shock and sadness at Zeno's sudden death.

"I'm really sad. He died in such a tragic way," said student Daniel Guerra, who is also Zeno's cousin. "He shouldn't have died like that, he had a life to live."

Daniel Guerra is a cousin and classmate of Zeno. (Paul Smith/CBC)

"School's gonna be a mess today," added Anita Chaseendran. "Everyone's gonna be sad."

The York Region District School Board (YRDSB) has brought in its tragic events response team to help students and staff cope with the death. The team offers support and counselling to people struggling with the news.

"It's not going to be a good day, but it's good that we have support at the school," Chaseendran said.

Zeno a 'beloved young man'

Students described Zeno as an outgoing person who was well-liked by his peers. He was also known around school as a basketball player.

"He was a really good kid, he was really bubbly," said Bianca Arena. "Everybody liked him, there was nothing rude that anyone could say about him. He was so sweet."

The YRDSB says teachers and administrators at the school have echoed that praise.

"In speaking with the staff today we've learned Daniel was a very beloved young man," said Dale Brusselers, a spokesperson with the board.

Zeno's funeral is scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Zeno and his friends were travelling in this 2009 Kia Sportage when it veered off the roadway and hit a tree. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

The 17-year-old driver and the other passengers injured in the crash are expected to recover.

Police say there did not appear to be any signs of impairment and investigators have not laid any charges at this time. Investigators are appealing for any witnesses to contact them.