A New York woman was found dead in the parking lot of a Hackensack, New Jersey, Burger King on Monday.
The East Coast was hit by a massive snowstorm this past weekend. Many were snowed in and few felt comfortable to drive. An expected one to two feet of snow became a reality on Friday and Saturday. As the blizzard raged, the temperature dropped to a dangerous level.
The 78-year-old woman had evidently been afraid to drive in the snowy conditions. When her body was found, the car was covered by inches of snow. The Hackensack police were notified by a call from one of the Burger King employees and came on the scene Monday morning at 8:30 a.m., after the car had spent nearly two days in the parking lot.
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“She told an employee on Friday night that she was going to stay parked there because [she was] afraid to drive in the snow,” Police Director Michael Mordaga said in an interview with NJ.com on Monday.
There were some scattered reports that the car was seen driving on the wrong side of the road on Friday evening. But by Saturday morning, the car was still parked next to the restaurant.
The New YorkDaily News reports that the vehicle attracted the attention of the restaurant employees, as well as the notice of nearby businesses and local residents. Despite the fact that the parking lot had been plowed over the weekend, the gold Cadillac was still covered by snow and surrounded by drifts. Numerous locals recognized this as a peculiar situation.
According to CBS New York, Rubin Santiago, an employee at a nearby private ambulance company, remembered seeing the snow covered car during the weekend.
“I came to work 5:30 Saturday morning, noticed the car was out there. Sunday morning as well. We were digging out the trucks and the car was still stuck out there,” Santiago told CBS2’s Christine Sloan.
Nearby resident, Bob Syrek, told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell that he had noted the gold Cadillac as well.
“There was a guy with a pick-up truck trying to plow the lot out. I’m saying, ‘He’s wasting his time,’ and then that’s when I noticed the car parked there. It was there all day Saturday, all day Sunday.”
The blizzard that hit the Atlantic coast was simultaneously magical and dangerous. While many were safe in their homes, the storm claimed the lives of numerous East Coast residents.
By Saturday afternoon, the blizzard had become threatening. Police began to shut down highways and set up checkpoints. City officials urged people to get indoors as quickly as possible. New York went as far as banning non-essential travel. The storm has now been officially named Winter Storm Jonas.
NBC New York‘s Michael Sisak and Verena Dobnik reported that the death toll from the East Coast storm rose to 41 on Monday.
“Deaths occurred in 13 states and were attributed largely to shoveling-related heart attacks, car accidents and carbon monoxide poisoning. In New Jersey, […] carbon monoxide from a blocked tailpipe killed a woman and her 1-year-old son and left her 3-year-old daughter in critical condition. The children’s father was steps away shoveling out the car, authorities said Sunday.”
Mordaga has confirmed that the police have no suspicions regarding foul play. The car keys were not in the ignition and the tailpipe was clear of snow, suggesting that carbon monoxide poisoning was not a factor. He has also said that the woman’s death could possibly be the result of the weather, and an autopsy is scheduled.
The police have not released the woman’s identity, which is pending the notification of her family.