SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A life in the mountains away from the hustle and bustle of their native Bay Area - that was the dream become reality for Jason Cassem, along with his wife and two children. But that reality turned into a nightmare, after Cassem died in a snow accident at the end of March, at their Placer County home.
"He was a really good dad. And he was a really great friend and brother-in-law. And he's just going to be so missed," said Sara Marcantonio.
Marcantonio is Jason's sister-in-law. She says last Wednesday night, Jason decided to put more gas into the family's generator, which was inside a small structure attached to the house.
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Following the recent storms, that structure was mostly buried under several feet of snow, reaching all the way up to the family's second-story window.
"When he didn't come back after a few minutes, my sister thought it was odd," Marcantonio said.
Marcantonio says while Jason was inside the structure, the snow collapsed trapping him inside.
After several minutes, the fumes from the generator caused Jason to lose consciousness.
His wife, Melissa, realizing something was wrong ran out to try and rescue him before she too became trapped.
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"She started CPR and chest compressions but then the fumes were so strong so she would try to come up for air," Marcantonio said.
Still inside the home, the couple's two young children heard their mother's screams for help and called 911.
While they waited for help, the couple's children, Juliana and Geoffrey, began digging through the snow with pots and pans trying to rescue their parents.
As first responders rushed to the scene, dispatchers also called an off-duty firefighter who lived nearby.
After arriving at the house, he was able to rescue Melissa.
"They all have said that it's a miracle that she's even alive. We've done this for a long time and this isn't usually how this ends up," said Marcantonio.
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But for Jason, it was already too late.
Marcantonio says Melissa wanted to take Jason's wedding ring to keep as a reminder after he passed.
She tells ABC7 News that while they weren't able to take it off him initially, first responders assured her they would get it to her.
Marcantinio claims that still hasn't happened yet and the family is asking for help to try and retrieve it.
As the family picks up the pieces, they're thanking everyone for the outpouring of support and hoping Jason's death can serve as a reminder of the importance of staying safe.
"Where people could maybe see or learn about the snow area up here. No one expected this snow this year. No one expected it to be so bad," said Marcantonio.
If you would like to donate to the family, you can do so at their GoFundMe page.
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