Windber, PA – A Windber college student found dead inside her car on Sunday died of carbon monoxide poisoning, the Somerset County Corner has ruled.

Naomi A. Slifco, 21, was found inside her car 11:30 a.m. Sunday.

Coroner Wallace Miller believes the woman had started her vehicle in a lot near her home and was overcome by carbon monoxide.

The death has been ruled accidental.

Slifco was a 2007 graduate of Windber Area High School and was studying accounting at Cambria-Rowe Business College in Johns-town.

She was employed at Big Lots in Richland Township, where she was remembered as a cheerful worker.

“That girl was always happy, always laughing,” co-worker Laurie Maser of Johnstown said. “She brightened my days. We were really close friends.”

Maser said she and another friend had recently taken Slifco out to celebrate her 21st birthday.

Slifco, who worked part time while attending college, was scheduled to work Friday morning.

“She should be here at 7 o’clock with us,” Maser said. “I still don’t understand. There’s nothing bad you could say about this girl.”

The tragedy is a painful reminder of the dangers of carbon monoxide, especially during winter.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates more than 400 Americans each year die from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning, and 4,000 more are hospitalized.

Windber fire Chief Craig Cicon advises motorists to clear snow from vehicle tailpipes to prevent the odorless gas from filling the passenger compartment.

“With this amount of snow, it comes up over the bumper and the exhaust pipe,” he said.

“The exhaust cannot vent and it backs up into the cab of the car.

“You don’t know you’re getting carbon monoxide when you’re sitting in your car,” the chief said.

Cicon said not to sit in a car waiting for it to warm. Start the car and go in the house until the car warms, he said.

It your vehicle becomes stuck in a snowbank and you must wait for help, keep a window open for fresh air, he said.

In the home, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed and maintained according to manufacturers’ recommendations, Johnstown Assistant Fire Chief Bob Statler said.

If the carbon monoxide detector sounds, residents should call the fire department or gas company, he said.

“It’s better to be safe,” Statler said.

Chimneys should be cleaned every year, and furnaces and kerosene heaters maintained, he said.

Never use a generator inside the home.

A 60-year-old man and his 19-year-old daughter were found dead Sunday inside their Mc-Keesport home, where they had a generator running after a storm-related power outage. Authorities believe exhaust fumes killed the two.