Deaths Of Two Found In Burning Minivan Ruled Accidental

CHICAGO (CBS) — The deaths of two men whose bodies were found in a burning minivan in the Little Village neighborhood last month have been ruled accidental.

After Chicago firefighters discovered the bodies in the burning vehicle next to a grocery store on 31st and Harding shortly before 12:30 a.m. on Sept. 2, community activists had speculated the deaths and the fire being caused by everything from domestic violence to gang retaliation to a drug deal gone sour.

On Thursday, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said autopsies have determined 65-year-old Jose Suarez and an unidentified man died of smoke inhalation and alcohol intoxication.

Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the Office of Fire Investigations determined the minivan’s engine had been running, and caught fire as the two drunk men sat in the vehicle. The air conditioning was on, and investigators believe smoke from the fire under the hood slowly seeped into the passenger compartment and incapacitated them.

Langford said one of the men appeared to have made an unsuccessful attempt to get out of the minivan.

Area Central police detectives have rule the deaths, “non-criminal.”

The Medical Examiner’s Office said it is still working to determine the identity of the second victim.

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