A 32-year-old New Jersey woman reportedly working four part-time jobs died from carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping in her SUV between shifts, the New Jersey Star-Ledger reported.
Police in Elizabeth found Maria Fernandes dead inside the vehicle on Monday afternoon. Authorities believe she pulled the SUV, a 2001 Kia Sportage, into a convenience store parking lot to take a nap, but left the car running while she slept.
Toxicology reports on Fernandes’ death are still pending, but police believe that carbon monoxide from the car, combined with fumes from a spilled gasoline can inside, combined to poison her. Fernandes reportedly carried the gasoline can in order to fill up her tank while driving between jobs. Authorities do not suspect foul play in her death.
“This sounds like someone who tried desperately to work and make ends meet, and met with a tragic accident,” Lieutenant Daniel Saulnier was quoted as saying.
The Star-Ledger reported that Fernandes worked at three different Dunkin’ Donuts locations, using buses and trains for her commutes before acquiring the vehicle last year.
A friend of hers, Richard Culhane, told the newspaper that a mechanic discovered “a problem” with an exhaust valve while working on her car earlier this month. A former manager said Monday was the first day the Massachusetts native did not arrive for her scheduled shift.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Fernandes was one of an estimated 7.5 million people around the country working multiple jobs to make ends meet in the wake of losing their jobs during the 2008 recession. Many of them reportedly take a 10 percent pay cut to return to the workforce.
[Image: “Woman driving a car, going home from work,” via Shutterstock]