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Deadly car fire in Cass County highlights winter weather vehicle safety

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 7:20 PM EST
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CASS COUNTY, Mich. (WNDU) - Two people died last Friday in a hotel parking lot in Cass County, just a short walk from safety.

Cass County Sheriff Richard Behnke said the pair went to visit friends at the Castle Inn and Suites in Pokagon Township where their car got stuck in the snow in the parking lot.

The friends apparently tried to help free the car but were not successful.

“So, the people from the apartments, which these two were familiar with, went back into their apartments, but the two people in the vehicle decided to stay in the vehicle, leaving the engine running,” Sheriff Behnke said.

At 3:19 a.m. Friday, the fire department got the call about an explosion and fire. When the fire was extinguished, two bodies were found inside.

“The two occupants were in the front seat. Driver and passenger seats when they were discovered, which leads us to believe they were maybe overcome with carbon monoxide, but that’s just our belief, or speculation at this time,” the sheriff said. “And it’s our belief that the tailpipe got blocked with snow, the snow accumulated which created a back draft if you will of carbon monoxide into the vehicle, actually catching the vehicle on fire.”

The two victims are Electra May Sutfin, a 27-year-old woman from Galien, and Chloe Clink, a 28-year-old woman from Dowagiac. They were identified using dental records.

The sheriff says the incident is a reminder to carry a shovel that can be used to remove snow around the tailpipe if one becomes stranded.

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