The bodies of three young women were found in their car near the Squaw Valley USA ski resort on Monday.
Preliminary investigation indicates that snow from Monday's heavy storm may have blocked the vehicle's tailpipe, causing carbon monoxide to enter the passenger compartment of the car. It appears the three women had been sleeping in the car and had been there overnight, according to police.
The preliminary cause of death appears to be accidental carbon monoxide poisoning, police said.
The victims were identified as Lacey Louann Sutton, 22, of Marysville, Sara Alice McCullah, 21, of Marysville, and a 17-year-old juvenile female from Loma Rica .They were found by a Squaw Valley security guard in a parking lot near the resort.
The mother of Sara McCullah says her daughter and Lacey Sutton had moved to the area to find work at the resort.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 500 carbon monoxide deaths occur annually with increases during winter. Carbon monoxide has no taste, odor or color and, therefore, goes undetected.
When the end of the exhaust pipe is obstructed by snow, carbon monoxide can leak from cracks in the exhaust system, through the floorboard of the vehicle potentially resulting in death from inhalation.
Travelers to snow country should never sleep in their vehicle with the engine running even if the tailpipe is clear of snow, it can drift and pile up around the pipe over time.
Forensic autopsies will be performed by the Placer County Coroner's office to determine the exact cause of death.