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Three Dead From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning While Clearing Snow Around Vehicles
Updated January 26, 2016 3:32 AM
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(PHILADELPHIA, PA.) - A young New Jersey mother and her son as well as a Pennsylvania man all died of carbon monoxide poisoning on Saturday, January 3.

A 23-year-old mom, Sashalynn Rosa and her one-year-old son, Messiah died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Passaic, NJ on Saturday evening. Her 3-year-old daughter, also involved in the incident is listed in very critical condition. All three were sitting in the running car while the father was shoveling out the vehicle according to authorities. The tailpipe of their car was covered in snow causing carbon monoxide to leak into the inside of the car.

A Muhlenberg Township (about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia) man, 56-year-old David Perrotto was also killed after his running car became trapped by snow from a plow clearing the roadway. Investigators believe he was either in the car with the motor running to take a break or trying to get out of the space when the plow came by and buried the car, blocking the exhaust and preventing him from exiting.

"These are incredibly tragic incidents that should serve as a reminder to always check to make sure no ice or snow is blocking your tailpipe before you get into your car," said Janette Fennell, president of KidsAndCars.org.

On average, about 150 people die each year as a result of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from motor vehicle exhaust, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Motor vehicles are the primary cause of all unintentional carbon monoxide deaths, with a third of deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning by motor vehicles occurring in winter months, often in garages, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

KidsAndCars.org has documented 104 adult fatalities and 36 child fatalities (age 14 and under) due to carbon monoxide poisoning involving vehicles. Of those, 19 have been attributed to keyless ignition vehicles where drivers have forgotten to turn off their keyless ignition vehicle in an enclosed garage.

Keyless ignition systems (push-button) work by allowing drivers to start their vehicles with the push of a button when the car senses that the key fob is nearby instead of a traditional key. Many new vehicles equipped with keyless ignition systems run so quietly it's easy to forget the vehicle is still running as drivers put the vehicle into park and leave the vehicle. Furthermore, hybrid vehicles many times make no noise at all when stopped. When a car engine is left running, it spews out carbon monoxide in an attached enclosed garage and the colorless and odorless carbon monoxide fumes seep into the home.

KidsAndCars.org suggests that drivers be particularly careful to turn off their keyless ignition vehicle. This is a serious change to our normal driving behavior after decades of being assured that our vehicles are turned off because we have the key in our hand. Please pass on these safety tips to anyone who drives a keyless ignition vehicle; it may save a life.

Carbon Monoxide & Vehicle Safety Tips from KidsAndCars.org

Carbon monoxide (CO) is an odorless, colorless gas that is emitted by running vehicles and can quickly cause you to become disoriented, suddenly ill or even death. Below are a few tips to keep you and your family safe from this dangerous gas:


  • Always clear the tailpipe of a vehicle in inclement weather conditions. If the tailpipe becomes clogged with ice, snow or other debris, carbon monoxide can leak into the passenger compartment of the vehicle.

  • Do not put children or adults inside a running vehicle while clearing snow or ice off the vehicle.

  • NEVER leave a child alone in a vehicle, not even for a minute.

  • Never warm up a vehicle in any enclosed space.

  • Never leave a vehicle running in the garage, not even with the garage door open.

  • Always keep vehicles locked at all times and keep keys and remote openers out of reach of children. Children may be tempted to get into vehicles to play or hide.

  • Keyless ignitions vehicles should always be double-checked to ensure the vehicle has been turned off. Even if you take the key fob with you, the vehicle could keep running.

  • Ensure that you have working carbon monoxide detectors in all areas of the home, especially near sleeping areas. Check batteries twice a year and replace detectors every 6-10 years.

  • During busy times and changes in routine be extra cautious as distractions and multi-tasking can lead to forgetting to turn the car off, even for the fanatically detail-oriented organized person.

  • Do not allow children to play behind a running vehicle. This is dangerous for numerous reasons, the driver is unable to see them in the blindzone that exists behind all vehicles and they will be exposed to the fumes coming out of the vehicle's exhaust system.



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