Maria Fernandes from Newark, New Jersey was one of many of us working to survive. Her story is not uncommon; she worked four low-income jobs to make ends meet. Her story does not end like a fairytale, but hopefully it will serve as a grim wake-up call to other women who have also been forced to work low-income jobs.
In the breaks between her shifts, Maria would often park in a public parking lot and take a quick nap. She also kept a can of gasoline in the trunk of her car as she frequently ran out. Like many other days, on a Monday Maria pulled into a Wawa’s and parked to take a quick nap. One of the employees noticed that something was off and called 911. Emergency services arrived and when they opened Maria’s car, they were hit by a pungent odor. Maria was declared dead on arrival, and a Hazmat team had to be called to determine what caused her death.
Tragically, Maria died from inhaling a fatal mixture of gasoline that had spilled in her trunk and carbon monoxide from her car.
Lt. Daniel Saulnier of Elizabeth Police told The Star-Ledger of Newark, “This sounds like someone who tried desperately to work and make ends meet, and met with a tragic accident.”
Since 2008, many individuals have been forced to work two or more jobs due to a lack of jobs in the job market, and they still don’t make enough to support themselves financially Maria’s story is sadly common, but it should serve as a warning to others to prioritize themselves and their health even in difficult situations like Maria’s.
There were no indicators of foul play in Maria’s death, and police have deemed the entire affair a tragic accident. Hopefully, this story will serve as a lesson to others, both women and men, to take care of themselves so that the world can avoid another senseless death like Maria’s.