WILKES-BARRE — An autopsy on the woman found dead inside a burning SUV in Forty Fort showed she died from the fire while she was unconscious from an undisclosed medical condition, Luzerne County Coroner William Lisman said Thursday.
Lisman identified the woman as 56-year-old Suzan Ludden of Hughestown.
The coroner said he believed Ludden’s medical condition made her “unconscious and unaware of conditions” at the time of her death.
Ludden was found in the driver’s seat of a Jeep Liberty in an isolated area of Edward’s Landscaping Service off River Street early Wednesday afternoon.
The autopsy was performed by forensic pathologist Dr. Mary Pascucci at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. The manner of death was ruled accidental.
Lisman said he couldn’t release Ludden’s existing medical condition due to federal privacy regulations known as HIPPA. Authorities said Wednesday that the woman had “extreme diabetes.”
Lisman said Ludden was identified by medical records at the autopsy. Dental records couldn’t be used in the identification process because Ludden had dentures, Lisman said.
State police deputy fire marshal Trooper Ron Jarocha examined the Jeep on Thursday and found that the vehicle’s engine had caught fire. Jarocha determined the fire was accidental.
The burning Jeep was first spotted by Edward’s employee Bill Bruch who said he used two fire extinguishers on the flames. Forty Fort police officer Brian Casella smashed a window but couldn’t see inside the vehicle due to heavy smoke.
Bruch said Wednesday that he didn’t know a person was inside the burning SUV.
The area where the Jeep burned is at the rear of the property where the business keeps material, such as mulch, stone and decorative rock.
Bruch said there is no reason for anyone to drive to that area unless a contractor or another employee is conducting landscaping business.
Ludden’s Facebook profile says she was employed at Offset Paperback in the Back Mountain.
She hadn’t updated her Facebook page since 2012.