Two Austin police officers were hospitalized on Dec. 13 over concerns of potential carbon monoxide poisoning. According to a report in the Austin American Statesman, the officers were working together in the same vehicle when they started feeling nauseous and began experiencing headaches. The officers rolled down the windows and drove to the Austin police south substation to operate a different vehicle. The officers were evaluated by medics. The vehicle had a strong odor.
Suspicion of Carbon Monoxide
Firefighters tested it for carbon monoxide, but the results were negative. It is unclear what caused the officers to feel ill. Both officers were transported to a local hospital for tests. They were treated and released. The vehicle was pulled from service and will be inspected for leaks, officials said. Austin police took a third of their vehicles off the streets in the summer of 2017 when carbon monoxide leaks in some Ford Interceptor SUVs sent some officers to the hospital.
At least one of the officers who was exposed to the gas has filed a lawsuit against Ford, that manufacturer of the Interceptors. Austin police and Ford completed repairs on the city’s fleet of nearly 400 police Interceptors and the vehicles returned to the street in the summer of 2018.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating this issue for nearly three years now. The complaints, which cover vehicles built between 2010 and 2018, carry high stakes for Ford. NHTSA began investigating drivers’ claims in 2016, then expanded a probe a year later after saying it had “preliminary evidence” of elevated carbon monoxide levels in some driving scenarios. If NHTSA finds a safety defect, Ford would face the prospect of recalling more than 1 million vehicles, costing perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars.
Our auto defect lawyers represent victims of Ford Explorer and Interceptor SUV carbon monoxide cases. Our clients are both civilians and police officers. These auto defects have the potential to cause serious injuries and fatalities. We commend advocacy groups such as the Center for Auto Safety for mounting pressure on NHTSA to act quickly and hasten the recall. It is important that NHTSA issues a recall as soon as possible to avoid further injuries and fatalities related to this vehicle defect.