Passaic, N.J. resident Felix Bonilla worked to remove snow from his car last Sunday while his wife and two kids sat inside the warming car. Inside of the car, his 23-year-old wife Sasha, and their 1-year-old son died as carbon monoxide fumes backed into the car, according to NBC New York.
The culprit, investigators told WNBC, was a blocked tailpipe.
The couple’s 3-year-old daughter remained in critical condition, as of Wednesday.
Neighbors tried to save the woman and infant by performing CPR until medics arrived. The Bonillas were among 50 people killed during last weekend’s massive storm, which dropped 2 feet of snow from Kentucky into Rhode Island.
The Bonillas were not the only people killed from carbon monoxide poisoning while inside their car. Michael May, 55, died while sitting inside his car in Allentown, Pa.
Carbon monoxide is produced from the burning of fossil fuels. When gas burns inside a car engine, the fumes typically go through the car’s exhaust system. If the exhaust is blocked, the carbon monoxide can quickly back up and kill a person in a matter of minutes.
If inside a car covered by snow, one option is to open a window to allow fresh air to circulate into the car.