Hard-Working Woman's Attempt To Catch Up On Sleep Takes A Sad Turn

A New Jersey woman who was working four jobs to make ends meet was found dead in her SUV after she reportedly pulled over to the side of the road to rest.

Maria Fernandes, 32, reportedly parked her sports utility vehicle outside of a Wawa convenient store in Elizabeth, New Jersey because she wanted to catch up on sleep between jobs, reports NBC Philadelphia. At around 4 p.m. on Monday – eight hours after she pulled over -- Fernandes was found dead. Police have determined that she accidentally left the car running as she slept and inhaled a mixture of carbon monoxide and the fumes from a gasoline container that had turned over.

Fernandes worked two shifts at two different Dunkin Donuts, in addition to two other jobs. She often napped in her 2001 Kia Sportage between shifts and reportedly kept a container of gasoline in her car in case she ran out of gas, reports The Star-Ledger of Newark.  

“This sounds like someone who tried desperately to work and make ends meet, and met with a tragic accident,” said Elizabeth police Lt. Daniel Saulnier.

Employees at the Wawa became suspicious and called police after noticing the woman’s car had been parked in its lot for hours. When emergency responders arrived, they discovered that all of the doors and windows on the woman’s SUV were shut tight. The chemical smell they encountered upon opening the door was overwhelming, according to authorities.

An autopsy has determined that foul play was not to blame for Fernandes’ death. An official cause of her death is pending on toxicology results. The woman has family in Portugal and police say they have been notified of her death.

Sources: NBC Philadelphia, The Star-Ledger of Newark

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Police Department

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