PLACER COUNTY, Calif. — A family in Placer County is mourning the loss of Jason Cassem, a dedicated father of two.
Cassem died of carbon monoxide poisoning at his home in Drum Forebay after a snowbank collapsed, trapping him inside a structure with a gas-powered generator.
"He loved my sister and those kids, so much," said Cassem's sister-in-law Sara Marcantonio.
Marcantonio said her sister, Melissa Cassem, Jason and their two kids traded life in the Bay Area for a mountain dream home last year.
She said Melissa was lucky to be alive after she fell inside the structure with him.
"She started to perform CPR on him and chest compressions, but then realized there were a lot of fumes, that generator was running, she was screaming for help and the kids heard," said Marcantonio.
The children heard Melissa's calls for help and started digging with pots and pans. Her daughter, Juliana, called 911, but first responders got stuck in the snow.
A dispatcher contacted an off-duty firefighter, who rushed over to help.
"Got the kids in the house to safety and he dug and he dug, and he pulled my sister straight up," said Marcantonio, calling it a miracle that her sister survived.
Unfortunately, it was too late for Jason.
"Jason had these beautiful sparkling eyes, and this gorgeous smile. He loved my sister and those kids so much. And he never wanted them to want for anything and he tried really hard up there," said Marcantonio.
Donate to the family's GoFundMe page here.