Girl, 3, dies days after mom, little brother killed by carbon monoxide from snow-filled tailpipe

ByEyewitness News WABC logo
Thursday, January 28, 2016

PASSAIC, N.J. -- A 3-year-old girl from New Jersey has died from carbon monoxide poisoning after both her mother and 1-year-old brother died in the same CO-filled car Saturday.

Passaic's mayor told Eyewitness News that 3-year-old Saniyah Bonilla died Wednesday at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center.

Police said 23-year-old Sashalynn Rosa, her 1 year-old, Messiah, and Saniyah sat in the car to stay warm, while Sashalynn's boyfriend dug the car out from the snow.

But the tailpipe was clogged with snow and carbon monoxide seeped into the running car, killing the mother and infant son. Saniyah was unconscious, but was kept alive by paramedics and a bystander who was not afraid to get involved.

"I tried to help the girl, and I put my mouth in. Girls and paramedics worked so hard, so hard to save the kid," said eyewitness Isabel Carmona.

Saniyah was taken to the hospital in critical condition, and died four days later.

"It's hard to lose them like that," says boy's grandfather, Felix Bonilla.

His son, Felix Bonilla, Jr. had been digging out the family's car.

Friends say the father, when not working at his job at a restaurant depot, spent all his time with his children. Eyewitness News told he's been by his surviving child's bedside ever since the tragedy. His father says his son is devastated.

"And my son. He's not doing good. Real bad," adds Bonilla.

Police say the tragedy is a reminder to people to make sure their tailpipes are free and clear because it doesn't take long for cars to fill up with carbon monoxide.

"Any snow that covers your tailpipe you want to shovel the snow from the back of the car and clear the tailpipe before you even start the car," said Battalion Chief Chris DiBella, Passaic Police Department.